University of Leicester eBulletin

BAFTA for University of Leicester Graduate

May 2002
No 101

Award winning film was partly made in Leicestershire
Rob Dawber and colleagues CAMPAIGNER: Rob Dawber (bearded, on right), pictured with fellow railway workers

A University of Leicester graduate has won a Bafta for his maiden script for the Ken Loach film, The Navigators - but tragically died before the film was released.

Rob Dawber, who graduated with a BA in Social Sciences from the University in 1978, received the award at last month's ceremony. It was collected on his behalf by his father and brother, Peter.

The rail worker and writer contracted mesolethelioma and successfully sued his employers over the fatal illness in what was seen as a landmark victory.

His decision to take a job on the railways after gaining his degree at Leicester was partly driven by his political commitment as well as to reflect his social origins, according to Peter.

"He wanted to work with people he could relate to as we came from a working class background," said Peter.

Rob Dawber spent 18 years working for British Rail in Sheffield and was a trade union activist, becoming branch secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen.

Made redundant at the time of privatisation, he chose to pursue a career as a writer, whilst campaigning as he always had against the undermining of trade unions and the impact that had on health and safety.

His award-winning screenplay deals with the evils of privatisation. Peter said: "Rob sent the draft of the screenplay to Ken Loach in 1998. It was eventually accepted and  Rob was commissioned to develop it further. However, two days after getting the commission, he was diagnosed with the fatal illness.

"Rob was given six months to live - but he searched tirelessly for a cure while working on the script and taking legal action against his employers.

"He survived for two and a half years, got his victory in court and saw the final cut of the movie. He died on February 20, 2001."

Rob won the New Writer's Award for the Channel 4 film, part of which was shot at the Great Central railway in Loughborough. It was screened on the anniversary of the Hatfield disaster. It also received several international screenings at prestigious film festivals.

Peter said: "We collected the award on behalf of mum and dad and Rob's family. We will now have a big party to celebrate his life and achievements. "Rob really was an inspiration to all who knew him."

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Peter Ramsay-Dawber on 0115 848 4274 or 07968 054 975.

More information on Rob can be found on: More information on The Navigators can be found on:  

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