A chance meeting

One evening in 1983 a music teacher from Caterham was driving home from giving piano lessons when her car broke down on White Hill, Caterham. She needed to find a telephone to call for assistance, and, in those pre-mobile-phone days, she had no option but to knock at the door of the nearest house. No answer. She tried the next house. No answer. And the next one, where an obliging man said he would love to help, but regrettably didn’t have a phone (in 1983!). The next house was called “The Dairy” and the pleasant, if rather scruffy man who answered the door heard the teacher’s predicament, and helpfully invited her into his house to use the phone. “It’s this way” he said as she followed him, carefully avoiding all the motor-bike parts littering the entrance hall. He led her into the room where the telephone was, and she was astounded to see that room also contained two very classy pianos – a Bluthner grand and a Broadwood upright. The music teacher was Sue Simpson, and the owner of the pianos was Robert Bouffler, an Australian concert pianist and music teacher, whose house Sue had chanced upon.

This was the start of a friendship that lasted barely four years until Robert’s tragically early death in May 1987, a few months before his 40th birthday. The Robert Bouffler Music Trust was set up after his death to help young local people with their music education. Sue became a founder Trustee, together with Sidney Davidson and David Birt.