Ken Frogbrook, of Gurnard, who died on February 2, aged 75, was best known as the inventor of the Frogmat, a device to protect the shoreline from oil spills. Kenneth Henry Lee Frogbrook was born in Gurnard during the war. He grew up in Cowes, attending Ryde School.
Mr Frogbrook spent his National Service years in London as a mounted policeman. On returning to the Island, he became a dairy farm manager and met his first wife, Jill. They had two daughters, Louise and Jenny. Mr Frogbrook’s unforgettable singing voice gave him lead roles in numerous musicals and his family were active members of Cowes Operatic and Dramatic Society. He worked tirelessly to secure the society’s premises, Trinity Theatre. This was acknowledged with life membership of the society. While living at Wheatenbread Farm and dairy farming at Three Gates Farm, Mr Frogbrook was master of the IW Foxhounds and enjoyed hunting on his favourite thoroughbred mare, Tinkers Request.
Mr Frogbrook moved to a remote Shetland island, Papa Stour, where he farmed a flock of more than 300 sheep. Here he first thought of Frogmat as a solution to shoreline protection from oil spills. His love of animals led to the invention. While cleaning an oil-soaked puffin, he discovered the powerful effect of barley straw in the removal of oil from birds’ feathers.
He married his soul mate, Denise, in 1994. Together they continued to work on the Frogmat with the backing of influential people, including Prince Charles, the Duke of Westminster, Richard Branson and their friend, Joanna Lumley. The Frogmat significantly reduced the damage to the shore following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska and the Braer oil tanker running aground off Scotland in 1993. Mr Frogbrook’s focus remained on the environment and animals. Mr Frogbrook was also a writer and poet, publishing two books, The Luck and Ebb Tide. He loved his home, The Bakehouse, in Gurnard, where he and Denise settled. During his retirement, he enjoyed his grandchildren, many animals and messing about in boats.