Former police officer Robert Hibberd and teacher wife Patricia Hibberd die days apart

A FORMER Taunton police officer and his wife, who taught in the town, have both died just days apart.

Robert Hibberd passed away aged 89, while Patricia was 88.

Both were born in the Salisbury area and moved to Taunton in 1957 when Robert joined the Somerset Police Force.

They lived variously in South Road, the police flats opposite the police station, Somerset Avenue, South Street, Mountfields Road and Stoke Road.

Robert started his duties on beat patrol, transferring to motor cycle duty in 1960 and the dog section in 1966.

Robert and his first dog, Shaun, were on the national news in the late 1960s when they caught one of the ‘Dartmoor Three’, violent escaped prisoners.

On the retirement of his second dog, Prince, Robert worked in the radio dispatch section at Taunton Police Station, before moving to the coroner’s office. He retired from the police in 1987.

Patricia trained at Salisbury Diocesan Training College as a primary school teacher and taught in Taunton at North Town and St George’s primary schools, before teaching at Holy Trinity for 18 years, retiring in 1990. Eighty staff, friends and former pupils attended a barn dance on her retirement. A quote from The Gazette at the time said: “Patricia is bothered about all the children here. Each individual child is important to her. She is one of the old school.”

Robert was a member of Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club for many years and played skittles for Shuttern B.

When he gave up golf, he played bowls at Taunton Bowling Club.

Patricia was a member of the Church of England Children’s Society, the Corfe branch of The Women’s Institute and historical, antique and gardening societies. She was well thought of by members of The Taunton Art Group, especially through her work on the demonstrations committee.

They leave two sons, John and Philip, who went to Holy Trinity and Huish’s Grammar Schools.

In March 2018, Robert suffered a stroke that left him using a wheelchair. He was well looked after at Calway House, but during the summer of 2019, Robert and Patricia left Taunton to live in a nursing home, close to John in Surrey.

Before the pandemic stopped such things, they were able to get involved in activities they enjoyed – Robert watching sport and Patricia joining the local art group and church.

At the end of January 2021, Robert had a second stroke from which he never recovered.

The family were able to visit him and he died peacefully a week later on January 30.

Soon after Robert died, Patricia was found to have an infection and started medication. A few days later, a routine test found that she was positive for Covid-19. Although the COVID symptoms were mild, she wasn’t able to fight off both infections. Patricia also passed away peacefully, in the company of people she knew, on February 12..

A small family funeral was held on Tuesday, March 2 in Leatherhead.

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