Family gathers trackside to celebrate Frank’s life
ONE of Frank Roberts' favourite places was at the races, so it was a fitting tribute to his memory for the Roberts family to sponsor a race at the Yamba Golf & Country Club Cup Day on Sunday.
Race four was the Frank Roberts Tru Blu Memorial Benchmark 65 Handicap, paying homage to not only Mr Roberts' love of racing, but the prawn farming business he started in the early 1980s at Palmers Island.
Mr Roberts died six months ago, and his daughter Jacqui Roberts said the day was a chance for the family to get together and celebrate his life and memory.
"The day meant an awful lot to the family," she said.
"It was a chance for the family to happily remember their father and grandfather."
Ms Roberts said there were many stories shared by her father's friends of the times they had spent at the Grafton races together.
"It was great watching my mum Lorna come out here and be a part of it," she said.
"She is 84, and presented the trophy to the winning jockey."
Ms Roberts said family had travelled from across the globe to be at the races.
"My family travelled down from Noosa, my sister Leoni's family came from Canada, so it's meant a lot for us to be here," she said.
"Frank had 14 grandchildren, all bar three made it because they live internationally.
"There was a grandchild who came from Los Angeles, from Darwin, Perth, Sydney, they came from everywhere.
"It was wonderful to see everyone, and we all had a great time."
Ms Roberts said the family hopes to make an annual event out of sponsoring a race at the Yamba Cup meeting, and reunite the family.
In 1956, Mr Roberts started making the journey from Sydney to the Clarence Valley to watch and punt on the Grafton races.
After years of making the trip with his brothers, Mr Roberts decided he loved the area so much, he would call it his home, and in 1970 moved his wife and five children to Yamba.
Mr Roberts became a pioneer in the prawn farming industry when he converted his cane farm into a prawn farm and harvested Australia's first commercial crop in 1983.
Prawn farming has since grown to become an industry worth more than $70 million nationally.
Prawn farming was a high-risk business, but Mr Roberts was a gambler and stuck with his decision and faced many challenges that brought his business, Tru Blu Prawn Farm, to the brink of disaster many times. However, the farm survived, and is still in operation today, with Mr Roberts' son Alan and his wife Vicki at the helm.
Mr Roberts' daughter Sandra said it was special to celebrate her father's memory in a place that was close to his heart.
"The racetrack was one of Frank's favourite places to go, he just loved the races," she said.