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Tributes paid to Robot Wars legend Rex Garrod

Rex Garrod with his Brum car.
Rex Garrod with his Brum car.

The widow of Robot Wars legend Rex Garrod has led tributes to the Mickfield inventor, who died aged 75.

Mr Garrod, who also created the eponymous car in television series Brum and a later version of robotic dog K9 for Doctor Who, had been living with Alzheimer’s for eight years.

He died on April 8 and leaves behind two daughters Kim and Kay, and his wife of 27 years Sally, who said she felt “overwhelmed” at the response of friends and fans.

“He was a village boy,” she said. “Rex was born here and lived around Mickfield all his life. He was quite a character and always had time for people. I think he loved people in general.

“There was always something in the front garden, whatever he was working on. He made a big clock (that would stand in the Felixstowe seafront gardens) and that was a massive thing.”

Having left school with no formal qualifications at the age of 15, Mr Garrod began to make remote controlled mechanisms as a teenager.

He went on to compete in speedway, riding for Ipswich Witches, and presented Channel 4 show The Secret Life of Machines. His inventions also appeared in television shows Teletubbies and Rosie & Jim.

For as long as he was able to, he was involved with the running of the annual Mendlesham Street Fayre.

Carolyn Triscott, chairman of Mendlesham Community Council, said: “I don’t know how many years he must have come to Mendlesham.

“He was a big part of street fayre. He would come over the day before and was always in the same place – in Ralph and Daphne’s garden.

“Rex would come along with different inventions that he had made and he would entertain old and young, showing them experiments that they could do at home and the marvels of science.

“Although he did not live in Mendlesham, he was a big part of our village.

“He very much liked to help. He was easy to talk to, very friendly, had a great sense of humour and very kind and patient, especially with children.

“He had the time to be able to say ‘this is what I’m going to do here’ and ‘this is what happens when I do this’ and their mouths would drop open in awe because he had shown them something clever.”

Ralph Lambert, a friend of Mr Garrod for more than 30 years and the owner of the garden Rex used to display his inventions in, said: “I went to see him most Tuesdays. We had been friends for 30-plus years.

“He was an extremely clever man. What he couldn’t do, you could put down on a postage stamp. He could do almost anything. When he decided to do something, he did it.

“He had a very good sense of humour. I just enjoyed being with him. It didn’t matter what we started to speak about, even if we talked about the universe. His experiments and demonstrations were wonderful.

“I miss him. We often speak or think of Rex.” Mrs Garrod continued: “He did a lot for charity and often did not charge. Everybody loved him in the community.

“There has been an amazing response and I have got cards from so many people.”

Robot Wars fans will remember Mr Garrod for his appearances on the BBC 2 programme.

His second effort Cassius, entered with Simon West and Edward Bull, was credited with being the first able to self-right itself after being turned over. It reached the final of the second series, losing to Panic Attack.

The team entered Recyclopse in series one and Cassius II in series three.

This article appeared in the Diss Express, April 19.

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