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Kanpur hospital mourns Woolmer's demise
Sharat Pradhan | March 20, 2007 21:02 IST
It is not just the cricket world that's mourning the sudden demise of Pakistan team coach Bob Woolmer. Thousands of miles away from his original home in England and adopted residence in South Africa [where he chose to settle down], a few people in Kanpur are deeply grieved over "the loss of a dear son".
They are none other than those associated with the place where little Bob was born exactly 58 years ago -- the Georgina Mc Robert Memorial Hospital in Kanpur, one-time Uttar Pradesh's key industrial hub, about 80 km from Lucknow.
The hospital staff put up a portrait of the late cricketer, garlanded it and lit candles, in front of the labour room, where Bob's mother Charlie had delivered the baby, who rose to international cricket fame and met his end in mysterious circumstances in Trinidad on Sunday.
"We named this labour room and operation theatre after Bob Woolmer two years ago when he was here with the Pakistan team for a match," hospital trust secretary Dr M L Chowdhury told rediff.com .
"His demise is a personal loss to the entire staff of this hospital.
"He happily accepted our invitation to inaugurate the operation theatre named after him, and what he gave us in return was a priceless gift -- a T-shirt signed by him and the entire Pakistan team, with the instructions that we should auction it and use the proceeds for the benefit of the hospital," Chowdhury disclosed.
"But we decided to preserve the T-shirt, which will remain as a souvenir with us for posterity," he added.
Recalling Woolmer's visit, labour room matron Rafat said, "I was fortunate to be here when Woolmer came to visit the hospital on April 14, 2005. I can remember the deep emotion in his eyes as he entered the labour room, where he had come into this world."
Woolmer had visited each and every patient in the hospital and presented them bouquets. Essentially a maternity home, the hospital is ably run by a Christian mission.
According to senior sports scribe Santosh Suri , who met Woolmer during an earlier visit in 1997, "Bob had only one regret: that he cold never play at the Green Park stadium that lies bang opposite the Mc Robert Hospital."
Suri added: "Bob told me how his cricketer father Clarence Charlie Woolmer used to tell the son that his first gift in life was a tiny cricket bat and rubber ball, which the father had left beside the bed where he was born."
According him, Bob could recall a number of incidents of his infancy and childhood that he spent in what is now a dilapidated and abandoned bungalow in Kanpur's posh civil lines.
A manager in the then leading textile group British India Corporation, Woolmer Senior also once captained the then United Provinces (UP) team in the early fifties.
"He was also among the founder members of Cawnpore [as Kanpur was spelt earlier] Sports Club," disclosed the club's 71- year old secretary, Ghulam Moinuddin, on Tuesday.
When Bob visited the town again in 2005, the Kanpur Cricket Club presented him a silver platter as a gift for his late father, who at 95 then lived with him in South Africa.
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