A talented Aberdeen student who planned to move to America to get engaged to his sweetheart has died, aged 22.
Joe Robson suffered with epilepsy for much of his teenage years but medication gave him a new lease of life, allowing him to drive, travel and move in with pals at Aberdeen University.
The mechanical engineering student was at his family home near Aberlour on April 7 when he suffered a seizure and passed away.
His mum Liz said: “His girlfriend, Rachael Beyer, lives in the USA and he had been talking to her on the phone.
“We thought he was just having a lie-in and then, around noon, his dad Jeff saw there was a motor racing show on TV and one of Joe’s friends would be on. He knew Joe wouldn’t want to miss it so went to get him, but he had already passed away.”
Liz described her son as a funny, caring and loving lad who had a big smile and added: “He was back from university before his exams and, the day before he died, he was delighted to tell us he had two interviews for summer internships and so had gone to buy new clothes for the interviews.”
Joe, who attended Mortlach Primary School in Dufftown and Speyside High School in Aberlour, was diagnosed with epilepsy aged seven and spent time in Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and often used a wheelchair.
However, when he was 17, doctors tried new medication and the symptoms disappeared.
Joe became more independent and he studied at the University of Highlands and Islands at Moray College before joining Aberdeen University as a second year student in September 2017.
He moved to the city and lived with five pals, including Christopher Kennedy, 21.
Christopher said: “Joe always managed to show so much patience and compassion to people regardless of what he himself was going through.
“What made him popular was his harmless attitude. His flatmates often described him as a ‘gentle giant’ simply because of his continuous kindness and compassion to people, plus he is super tall hence the ‘giant’.”
Joe met Rachael in a north-east bar when she was on holiday from the USA with her family and the couple travelled together through Europe and to the USA.
Liz said: “After graduating in summer 2020, he planned to move to America to be with Rachael and they planned to get engaged. He was very kind and compassionate.”
One of Joe’s proudest moments was travelling to Silverstone racetrack in England to compete as part of Team Aberdeen University (TAU) in the Institution of Mechanical Engineering’s (IMechE) Formula Student event last July.
The team came 15th out of 120 overall and 2nd among the Scotland teams. Joe’s role was welding the car and helping maintain it. He had been working on the car for this July’s race before his death.
TAU Racing project manager and fourth-year mechanical engineering student Arran Strutt said: “Joe was an exceptional team member with an infectious personality and diverse range of practical skills.
“I will never forget how amazed I was to see a new member integrate as easily and as quickly as he.
“He was a hard worker and good friend to us all and our memories with him will never be forgotten.”
Liz said: “Joe was very brave and fearless and would always take time to listen to other people’s problems. His experience with illness gave him lots of empathy. We are all very proud of Joe and of the way he lived his life.”
Joe’s flatmate Mohammed Hussain, 24, said: “Joe was one of the most polite, caring, and well-rounded individuals I have ever come across.
“He took every ounce of life that was granted to him and used it to its full potential.
“I wish I had the chance to thank him for helping me become the person I am today – Joe taught me how to live a life full of joy, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
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Joe’s funeral is to take place at Aberlour Parish Church at 1pm tomorrow and guests have been asked to wear “bright colours and smiles” to reflect Joe’s vibrant personality.
His family have asked for any donations to go to Epilepsy Research UK.
The university is to provide a bus from the city to and from the service for Joe’s pals.
Professor Igor Guz, head of the University’s School of Engineering, said: “Joe’s commitment and dedication to his studies and to TAU Racing were exemplary and he will be greatly missed by his friends and classmates.”