ROBERTO LABELLA: A TRUE GENTLEMAN

Roberto Labella was a cheerful, inquisitive and good-natured man. We all shall miss him.

Personally I knew Roberto since 2004, the year we began Sixth Form College at St Ignatius. He immediately came across as a pleasant and methodical fellow.

I particularly remember Roberto from our classes in Business Studies and RE — an aspiring young man, so keen to learn much about the world around him.

With his charm and will-to-good, it was unsurprising that Roberto made friends very easily and always sought to keep in touch with them. He was always willing to extend that helping hand not discerning between those most close to him and those who were perhaps not. Interestingly, Roberto also came across as a very open-minded person who would accept things for what they were, thus in Roberto you found a true listener as well as a deep thinker.

Roberto could just say something and you’d instantly just smile. He had that charm and sincerity that brought out the best in people. He was not one to care solely about himself. He made persistent efforts to look after and care for his 2 younger brothers. His classmates and teachers had seen him grow from a boy that used to love his football at school — even if it was just games with the year group — to a man that loved and cared for his friends and family.

It is difficult to emphasize just how much Roberto wanted the best in life. Many of you have come to realize that he always enjoyed a good meal in addition to being the best person to have a debate and discussion with over hot food. If the debate was about football; he was there. If it was about Music; he was there. If it was about Business; he was there. Above all else, despite the often heated debates we’d have with him, they always seem to end in a fit of laughter. Something immutable which never changed certainly over the period we knew him.

Life is not without its troubles and tests. Unfortunately, Roberto was diagnosed with psychosis: a mental health condition last year and was taking medication that he hoped would by-and-large alleviate his pain.

Roberto was a proud man. He was especially proud of his Father Joe, and his two brothers Marco and Anthony. He kept me informed of how well Anthony had done at school along with his stunning Key Stage 3 results. ‘Keep it up’, Roberto would say. And Marco. Roberto was in awe at his curiosity to learn about the world and was of course happy to answer all his questions.

As with all families, there were struggles and great sadness and Roberto was no different.

For the last 4 yrs Roberto rang me almost daily. Likewise we’d meet almost everyday and we became very close friends. Within his last few days he had rung or attempted to contact most his friends.

The joy of listening to Roberto began to disappear as it became more-and-more clear that he was upset about his condition which he thought prevented him from leading a ‘normal’ life care as we may understand it.

It is with great sadness to inform you that many many times Roberto cried in pain. We can very well understand the pain and worries Joe and his family would have gone through. I specially remember Roberto telling me: ‘Bruv, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,’ and this is a key reminder for us all to be aware of our own personal fragilities. And that is a message which I pass onto all of you.

On a personal note; I have always had sympathetic ear for Roberto and never stopped giving him the support he needed over phone or by visiting him. He and his family were almost like a second home to me.

Roberto kept me informed of all world-affairs, Arsenal’s performance in the Premiership and also classical music which we have perhaps taken for granted. Whenever he felt well we had debates and chats about our days in Sixth form. That is the type of guy he was, so friendly and caring. Friendship meant a lot to him and it shows with everybody attending today. It also shows with all those who have posted a message on his Facebook page and paid your respects. Thank you to all of you for you have shown the exact same respect and love that Roberto himself was known to embody.

Roberto was a young man of quiet faith, and believing in God he will be now looking down from the Heavens wishing us all the best.

For us death is a graduation, a degree to see GOD.

As friends and relatives, we will ease the pain for Joe, Marco and Anthony.

So together we say ‘Thank You GOD’ for giving such a good friend as he enters his final resting place.

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