Crowds turn out at race in memory of soldier
CROWDS and competitors came out at the weekend for a special boat race along the River Towy in memory of fallen Carmarthen soldier Samuel Robinson.
Emotion was in the air during the event, especially during a minute's silence at the end of the race.
But his family said the whole day was a celebration of his life.
And they were keen to pay tribute to all the hard work which had gone into organising the event.
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Some of Sam's Army colleagues played a part on the water and in helping off it.
Bombardier Robinson was serving in support of Combined Force Sangin and died in an explosion in the Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand Province in July 2010.
The 31-year-old, from Pentre Morgan in Bronwydd, was also a keen paddler and had been a member of the Gwendraeth Valley Paddlers along with his dad Dennis Robinson.
And on Saturday the club held the third Samuel Robinson Memorial Race from Carmarthen to Llansteffan, having renamed it from its original title of the Towy Boat Race.
Organiser Chris Tatam said: "We had 77 paddlers in all, as individuals, in pairs and in triples. It was 10 per cent up on last year and there lots of spectators.
"We held a minute's silence at the end on the bank by the Towy Boat Club and it was quite emotional. Everyone knew what it was about. It was more about Sam than the race. Some of his colleagues took part and that added to the occasion."
Watching on proudly were Dennis and his wife Alison.
Dennis took Sam paddling with the club when he was nine.
"I only went because Sam wanted to get involved when he was younger and we both started from there," he said. "And I began paddling with him after a while."
Dennis had hoped to get on the water again himself last Saturday, but in the end reluctantly had to rule himself out.
"I had had a bit of a bad stomach in the week and decided it would be better if I didn't," he said. "But when I saw them go off I wished I had gone.
"It was an absolutely fantastic day and a wonderful tribute to Sam. So many people turned up."
Dennis paid tribute to Sam's colleagues and the club for all their efforts.
"It was not a sad occasion, but a celebration of his life," he said. "It was very uplifting."
Known as "Robbo", Samuel was a former pupil of QE Cambria School, and had worked at his father's business in Carmarthen before joining the Army in 1999.
Chris had to take over the running of the event at short notice because of unavoidable absences within the club.
But he was honoured to do so.
"I was just happy to help," he said. "The youngest competitor was 11 and the oldest was 62. The sun was shining and it was calm.
"I was quite an enjoyable race. It was very pleasant, whereas last year there was a south-westerly wind and waves."
But everyone connected was acutely aware that this was not just another sporting event.
"It had a special meaning because Sam was an ardent paddler with the club," he said. "And what happened was tragic, as it is with everyone else who has suffered like that."