THE family of an Albion supporter killed in September 11 attacks have told how the 20th anniversary brings back "sad memories of a difficult time".

Fresh tributes have been paid to Robert Eaton, 37, who died while working for stockbroking firm Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the North Tower.

Robert's sister Angela Ridge remembered her brother, whose memory lives on through the incredible fundraising efforts of his fellow football fans.

She said the family were "immensely proud" of everyone who had helped to keep the former Brighton College pupil's name alive.

At the time of his death, Robert lived in Long Island with his wife Jacqui who, despite remarrying, kept in touch with his parents.

The Argus: Rob Eaton was one of the victims who died in the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001

For weeks after the attack Robert was considered missing, feared dead.

On September 16 his parents, Doug and Laura Eaton, held a church service at their local church in Ditchling.

Father Jason Clarke led the service, at the time he told The Argus: "Everyone was able to offer them support and comfort, love and prayers during this terrible situation they are going through.

"I will be seeing his parents this week to discuss their needs and wishes for the future.

Robert's parents joined other villagers in the hope their son may still be found alive.

Mr Eaton said: "There is nothing we can do. We are simply sitting and waiting.

"We are well known in Ditchling. We went to church yesterday and everyone was very supportive and helpful."

The community came together again the following month, for a memorial service for Robert.

His friends, family, and work colleagues travelled from all over the world to pack the parish church.

The event included tributes from family including his older sisters Angela, Barbara and Judy and friends.

While Robert's nieces Emma and Charlotte Lake performed violin pieces.

Mr Eaton said: "The fact so many people came really brought home to us the great esteem in which Robert was held by so many people. It was a great tribute to our son and we were very moved.

"Everyone referred to his humour, kindness and generosity. He did so many kind acts for so many, many people, which we have only now found out about."

The Argus:

As the years passed, The Argus spoke to Mr and Mrs Eaton on the anniversary of their son's death.

The couple also joined the families of the other 66 British victims at a memorial service in Grosvenor Square, London

In 2006, Mr Eaton said: "Five years seems to have gone very quickly but time does not make it any easier because of the unique nature and scale of the tragedy.

"My son was such a great man in many ways - a great sportsman, son and character who was immensely talented and in the prime of his life.

"For that to be suddenly stopped is a tragedy beyond anyone's imagining.

"Something will occasionally stir my memory of long-forgotten things that happened when he was a child.

"They are memories I value a great deal, of the happiest years of our lives."

Following the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, a decade after the terrorist group took credit for the attacks, Mr Eaton spoke of his feelings about his death.

He said he felt indifferent to the news but would have preferred it if Bin Laden had been brought to trial.

While in 2016, his parents said feared there will never be a world free from terrorism.

Growing up, Robert was a talented choirboy who once got in trouble for writing "Brighton and Hove Albion" on the pianos at St Paul’s.

Despite moving to America, he never lost his love for the Seagulls and soon after his death fellow fans set up a memorial fund.

The Robert Eaton Memorial Fund holds an annual football match between rival Albion and Crystal Palace supporters and a number of other fundraising events.

The first charity match took place on November 9 2001 at Southwick Football Club.

It was set up to raise money for underprivileged children in the UK and overseas and has raised almost £300,000 in the past 20 years.

Speaking ahead of the 20th anniversary, Ms Ridge said: "While the 20 year anniversary of 9/11 brings back many sad memories of a difficult time, the family are immensely proud of the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund set up in Rob's name and to all who have been involved in tirelessly promoting the charity over the years."

Gareth Glover, Brett Mendoza, Mike Langridge, Alan Wares and other fans have played a large part in the fund.

"It is heartening to know that some good has come out of such a tragedy," Ms Ridge added.

Mrs Eaton died in 2018 in Ditchling surrounded by her family including her husband and daughters.


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