Image of the graduation procession inside the Liverpool Cathedral

David M Robinson

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

In the Northwest of England, the name of David M Robinson has become synonymous with high quality, innovative and leading edge design in the jewellery business. 

A traditional practical jeweller, David opened his first business in Liverpool in 1968 and now operates across the region. Despite being very much the dedicated businessman, he has also found time over the years to be a patron of the arts and a supporter of many charitable causes in and around the Northwest.  

David Robinson was born in 1943 in the Garston district of Liverpool. Brought up by his mother Stella who was from a Liverpool Irish family from Scotland Road, David went to Bank Road Primary School and then to Gilmore Heath Road Secondary Modern School. 

Not particularly academically inclined, he left school at 14, very aware of the oft-repeated advice, "Make sure you get a trade." He had a particular interest in and aptitude for art and for craftwork, nurtured at school in woodwork and metalwork classes, and which he put into practice at home doing well above average DIY. 

His first job was as a dental technician, but after 6 months, he realised it wasn't for him. Fortunately, an opportunity came up to become an apprentice goldsmith with a jewellery repair business on Hanover Street. The business was owned and run by Ben Harris, a kindly man who repaired jewellery on behalf of all the small jewellers in the centre of town. 

Ben, who David readily acknowledges as hugely influential in his life, tested the calibre of his apprentices by getting them to sweep the floor - David passed the test because he actually moved the furniture rather than just sweeping around it. It was during this time with Ben Harris that David achieved his qualifications the hard way by going to night school at Liverpool Art College - which is now part of LJMU.  

With the help of his excellent tutor, Stan Hill, David passed his trade examinations and became a Fellow of the British Gemmological Association. His remarkable progress in jewellery design was evidenced in 1964 when he won the De Beers Diamonds International Award, the supreme accolade from the jewellery trade for design. 

He repeated this achievement in 1968, all the more impressive because it had previously been unheard of for anyone from the North of England to win such an honour. 

In 1966, David married Chris Ormsby, his childhood sweetheart, thereby establishing an enduringly successful team. By this time, Ben Harris was coming up to retirement and offered the business to David, his most promising employee. Everything David and Chris owned was put on the line to fund the purchase and guarantee the loan they needed to get started. 

It was not long before David expanded into the jewellery retail business, opening a small shop on North John Street. The business and deal-making became consuming passions, with nothing spared in clinching the sale, providing his customers with what they wanted and when they wanted it. 

This entrepreneurial spirit has taken David Robinson from modest beginnings over 40 years ago to the current thriving business: requiring him to travel on buying trips to places such as Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, and with shops in Southport, Altrincham, Manchester, Chester and two in Liverpool serving a wide variety of loyal and satisfied customers. 

Despite the heavy demands of a successful business, David has contributed much to society through his patronage of the arts and support for many regional charities. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the Museums and Galleries on Merseyside and of the Liverpool Tate. And he has outlets for his own considerable artistic talent through painting in oils and acrylics, and through designing and nurturing his magnificent garden. 

David is also a lover of sport. Football has always been important to him: in earlier days, he was a centre-forward with a difference. His large Buddy Holly style glasses would fall off when he headed the ball - so that when he scored, rather than celebrating, he'd be down on his knees looking for his spectacles. 

These days, he's a Liverpool shareholder and season-ticket holder. Surprisingly, his second favourite team is Everton, but anyone doubting his loyalty to Liverpool should see him at the Derby matches.  

Apres-skiing and golf are other obsessions. When he speaks of golf, it's usually with despair, he hates an audience on the 1st tee, or indeed any tee, and he thinks it's a stupid game, with fairways that are never wide enough. Only golfers would understand why he perseveres.

David's talent for jewellery design combined with his keen entrepreneurial sense has made him into one of the most successful businessmen in the region. But he is also a generous and kind man who not only takes care of his staff but also gives much back to society. 

David Robinson, who is proud to see himself as a Liverpool lad, is a most worthy recipient of a Fellowship in recognition not only of his services to business and commerce but also for his wider contributions to society through his patronage of the arts and his considerable charity work.  

Thus I have pleasure in presenting David M Robinson, this most distinguished Alumnus and son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.