Sybil McRobie

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Biographical Information

Sybil McRobie died in 2007. Her husband George McRobie writes:

"My wife Sybil, who has died aged 85, came of a long line of yeoman farmers and smallholders in Kent. She broke with tradition by winning a scholarship at Tunbridge Wells girls grammar school, and gaining a languages degree at the University of Manchester. After wartime service in the Foreign Office as a translator, her peacetime career was as an editor, first at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) and then with PEP (Political and Economic Planning), an influential independent think tank then being run by the likes of Israel Sieff, Julian Huxley, Max Nicholson, Michael Young and Gerald Barry.

"Sybil joined the staff of PEP at the same time as Peter Townsend, soon to become a brilliant sociologist. Sybil was deeply moved by his groundbreaking book The Last Refuge (1958-59), a survey of institutions and homes for old people in England and Wales. She and I married in 1955 and 10 years later, we were in India on a Ford Foundation small industries project with our two boys. The plight of the rural poor in India resolved us to help Fritz Schumacher set up the Intermediate Technology Group, which became my lifelong career. On our return to England we settled in Ealing, where Sybil started an organic allotment, and joined the Soil Association (then struggling to survive).

"By the 1970s, Sybil was one of a trio of women who successfully campaigned for a civilised town centre instead of the motorway adjunct then favoured by the town planners. She then joined the Ealing Civic Society and the Ealing Green Conservation Panel, and launched the St Mary's Neighbourhood Association. She was also very active as a governor of Grange primary school for more than 20 years, and taught English at adult classes in the local college." [1]

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  1. Guardian Sybil McRobie, organizational web page, accessed March 2, 2012.