Gareth Roberts - Eulogy

Eulogy

Eulogy at Gareth’s funeral by Howard Davies

Former co-driver, Welsh TV broadcaster and friend Howard Davies gave this Eulogy at Gareth Roberts' funeral yesterday. With his permission, and that of the family, we reproduce it here....

"There is no doubt in my mind that Jaffa would have become a World Champion co-driver. He had all the qualities required and more. His personality warmed rooms and his massive beaming smile turned negative situations into positive ones. Once strapped into the car he was the ultimate robotic co-driver with an ability to adapt to any situation and speed.

The trickery path of life through to old age can be extremely cruel, none more than a week last Saturday when young Jaffa’s life was taken doing what he loved best.

Jaffa was born on the 6 August 1987 at Glangwili Hospital Carmarthen at 2.00 am in the morning. A real road rally boy...

He studied at Ysgol Llanpumsaint until 11 years of age and then Ysgol Bro Myrddin until the age of 17.

He was a keen athletic runner and gymnast and represented the school at the Eisteddfod. He had the teachers eating out of his hands just by smiling at them and tilting his head. He was a keen wheeler-dealer in school, selling fruit pastilles, mobile phones and Pokemon cards. He had to have designer clothes and spent ages choosing what clothes he wanted.

Jaffa was very mischievous as a youngster playing tricks on brother Dai and sister Kelly. It was never Jaffa’s fault. When the family dog had pups, he felt they needed a bath and passed them through the bathroom window for Kelly to bath them. The babysitter, Zoë, panicked when she found out and used the hair drier to dry them all before his parents came home. The Labradors looked like pom-poms.

Dai and Jaff had a motorbike for Christmas one year. Jaff being Jaff wanted to go on the bike but Dai would not get off so Jaff hid behind the tree and when Dai came close Jaff lifted a rope which caught Dai in the mouth and he flew off. Jaffa grabbed the bike and rode off.

His love for electrics and cars became apparent at a young age; he was forever stripping down the cars’ engines and gear boxes and putting them back together. When his parents were out he would drive his Dad’s Mk 2 Escort up and down the lane and around the back yard. Mike and Karen only found this out last week...

After leaving school he went to Ammanford College to do his apprenticeship as an electrician working with Will Rees in Dyfed Alarms, and then Will’s brother, Twm, at Rees Electrical.

In 2010 he decided to go self-employed and started his own business GR Electrical. It was a difficult decision to make and I remember the phone calls to myself, Phil Pugh and others. We had taken such steps and were confident that Jaffa was making the right decision.

There will be countless people in South Wales who I am sure will think of Jaffa every time they switch on or off their lights. Jaffa’s light is off sadly but the memory of his smile will always be embedded in my memory bank.

Jaffa cut his teeth in the lanes of Carmarthenshire on local road rallies influenced by his father, Mike, a fair driver himself.

His first WRC rally was Rally GB co-driving for close friend Rhys Lloyd in 2006 in a MGZR. In 2007 he co-drive for Matt Beebe before joining forces with Welsh star Elfyn Evans in 2008 winning the Fiesta Trophy in the UK and Ireland. More Fiestas in 2009 and his first outright win alongside Mel Evans on the Tour of Epynt in a Subaru.

His long-standing relationship with Craig Breen started in 2009 and he had co-driven for Craig since then.

In 2010 he also did a couple of rallies with Gwyndaf Evans, the Welshman was well impressed with this young, up and coming star. He also did Monte Carlo with Harry Hunt last year.

Roberts and Breen have been inseparable, winning the WRC Academy last year on the last stage of Rally GB. They were leading the current Super 2000 WRC championship. Such big achievements in such a short time.

WRC stars Phil Mills, Nicky Grist and Phil Pugh all felt Jaffa was on the way to the top of the sport he loved. He had a feisty determination and was very professional in his attitude towards his job.

Jaffa was as confident in Monte Carlo as he was in Newcastle Emlyn, navigating the course car on the famous centenary Cilwendeg two years ago with sponsor Meirion Evans. He smiled all night long. Jaffa was very proud of the Escort Mark Two he built and called it the Group 4 Door. He did the odd road rally himself, even getting Craig to come over and sample a local event at Ammanford recently. He was a true enthusiast.

Ironically the last time I spoke to him was to see if he would hire his car to me for my local road rally, fortunately for him it was still damaged from his last outing as he had no time to repair it before going to Italy.

The highlights of my working relationship in motorsport with Jaffa started with filming the Fiesta series co-driving for Elfyn Evans, lots of banter.

An interview on GB whilst co-driving for Gwyndaf Evans was another classic, pulling his leg about needing a booster seat so he could see over the dash of the Evo.

Teaching Craig to speak Welsh during the long road sections in Catalunya to give us at Ralio some one liners in Welsh at the end of the day.

"Drive shaft wedi torri..."

At a charity auction in Carmarthen I asked Jaffa to run up the price on some of the lots. He did quite well in the first half and we raised a lot more money. I couldn’t resist temptation and sold him a ride with Melfyn Evans for £250, he wasn’t too happy. In true Jaffa style he paid up...I don’t think he ever had the ride.

The true golden moment came last year when I interviewed him and Craig at the end of Myherin when they discovered they had won the WRC Academy. The tears and emotions were heartfelt throughout the Nation and this footage is now Platinum Gold, because this is the wonderful memory many people have of Jaffa.

He was quite modest of his many achievements. Last year he won the Welsh Association Wilkinson Sword for contribution to Welsh Motor Sport.

I remember him phoning me up asking what it was, and did he have to attend to collect this prestigious award… Jaffa is the youngest recipient of this award and it is surreal that he will not be at Llandod next year to hand it back.............

Cadw I wenni Jaff – Keep smiling."