BOBBY STOTT 40: Is Bobby Stott just another victim of violence? Does anyone really care?
Bobby Stott was a friend to everyone, a fact proven by the number of people from both sides of the community who attended his funeral.
He was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and was among the first of its members to be murdered in Londonderry.
Like so many other aspects of his life, Bobby’s reason for joining the UDR was a desire to serve the entire community.
The fifth in a working class family of eight, he understood in particular the needs of the elderly and, through his own experiences, he could easily identify with the social needs of the disadvantaged.
From the day he was born – November 7, 1953 – Bobby was afforded no more privileges than anyone else. He attended Carlisle Road Primary School and later, Templemore Secondary School and during his educational years he had his first meeting with the spectre that is death, when his mother, Grace, passed away.
Bobby felt his loss deeply and the entire Stott family closed ranks to help each other over the aftermath of the death.
However, for Bobby, the sense of loss was to last for the rest of his life, a fact which was eventually to become all too apparent.
From school, Bobby went to work in a local shirt factory, a path so many others of his generation followed.
Bobby Stott was fat – undeniably fat – and, at least in public, was always on a diet. However, it was the person behind the physique which made his friends seek him out.
Like anyone else he was capable of losing his temper but he will always be remembered as a fun-loving and loyal friend.
Bobby was 15 when the first big Civil Rights march ended in rioting in Duke Street.
The Bogside soon became the focal point for the world’s media as they daily captured the rioting there.
There is no doubt that Bobby’s political leanings were at variance with those in the Bogside but he never allowed that gap to interfere with the working relationship he had with those Roman Catholics with whom he came into contact.
On one occasion he was part of a cross-community project which travelled to Holland.
This was his first, and last, trip abroad but a subsequent obituary in the Creggan Community Newsletter praised him for his work, and for his attempts to teach the writer of the obituary how to play The Sash on a flute!
He joined the UDR, partly to help restore sanity to a crumbling country, and also to supplement his income.
Bobby was always smiling. As his sister says: “Someone was always looking for him to do something for them.
“He always opened the door to people seeking his help with a smile on his face.
“You know, I have often thought that if the killers had knocked on the door before shooting him, he would have greeted them with a smile!
“He had his sad times but he always kept the gloomy face to himself”’
And it was on a gloomy and wet night that Bobby Stott’s killers struck.
It was Tuesday, November 25, 1975.
The shops and stores were brightly decorated for the coming Christmas period and in The Fountain, where the Stotts lived, some houses had their decorated trees already in the window.
It was dark outside and the clock in the Stott house showed 5pm.
There was a heavy drizzle falling as Bobby made his way home. Because of the rain, the streets were virtually deserted.
Bobby had planned to go home, have his evening meal and then get changed to go out for the evening with some friends.
Inside the Stott house, a sister had already arrived back from work and a brother was already sitting down to his meal.
The sister takes up the story: “I could just imagine him walking across the street, his hands in his pockets, and his shirt, as always, open at the neck.
“He was always hurrying and given the fact that he was back in his own street, he would not have been thinking there was any danger.”
However, danger there was.
Bobby Stott was shot in the back – 10 times.
He fell at the steps leading to his own front door and it was there he was found by his brother and sister.
Bobby Stott was rushed to hospital, only to be pronounced dead on arrival.
No group or organisation ever claimed responsibility for the murder and nobody has ever been brought to trial.
Just before he was murdered Bobby celebrated his 22nd birthday.
His Protestant and Roman Catholic colleagues at work bought him a cigarette lighter and there was great consternation in the Stott house when it went missing a week later.
After he died his father went to a box where the Stotts kept the deeds of the family grave and all the letters of sympathy they had received when Grace died.
There, sitting inside that box, was the cigarette lighter.
‘Bobby must have been missing my mother a lot,’ said one of his sisters.
‘He must have read the letters frequently.’
Bobby Stott would have been almost 36 now and, in the opinion of his family, he would certainly have gone on to contribute to the work of the community.
‘Perhaps he would have been married now with a family,’ said his sister, ‘and he would have been both a devoted husband and father.’
All sections and shades of the community attended the funeral of Bobby Stott.
The Presbyterian minister described him as ‘a caring individual who put the needs of others before his own.’
The family say they will never come to terms with Bobby’s death, and one incident will stick with them forever.
“Apart from the gunshot wounds, we also noticed the track of a shoe on the side of his face,” said a member of the family.
“Not content with shooting him, it seems one of his killers stood on his face.
“It is the naked hatred which I find hard to believe.
“Bobby didn’t deserve that!” the family member stated.