Nina Nannar: 'My unforgettable day with Robin Gibb'

Nina Nannar interviewed Robin Gibb last October when he was being treated for cancer. Credit: ITV News

It is not something you readily confess too - shedding tears when you are out reporting, doing a story. But that is what happened to me the last time I met Robin Gibb.

It was last October, and he had agreed to let The Soldiers, a group made up of serving soldiers, sing one of the Bee Gees most famous songs Message to You, in aid of military charities. He re-recorded the song with them, as it was a cause close to his heart.

I was invited to talk to him, exclusively at his astonishing Oxfordshire home, a converted 12th century monastery.

But the date kept changing. Cancelled at the last minute. It was to do with his health I was told and indeed there had been reports of other cancelled appearances and visits to hospital.

When at last, and at the very last minute, I got a call from his PR to say Robin was definitely going to be ok to do this, I had my doubts and expressed them. But no, I was told, he will do this, he is desperate to do this story, as helping soldiers past and present was something he believed so strongly in.

So we arrived at his home, and then came the wait. The time for the interview came and went. I sat in a room of his home, where the walls glinted from all the gold and platinum discs he and his brothers had picked up in their staggering careers.

I am a huge fan of the Bee Gees and it was a privilege to be there. But there was still no sign of Robin Gibb. Only a succession of worried looking staff. At last one emerged to say to me that he was really very sick and he really didn't think Robin could speak to me, but that Robin was insisting.

So I was invited into the kitchen to meet Robin myself and make a judgement. There he was sitting in a chair with a nurse and medical staff, tending to him. And he looked so weak and frail, and ill, he could barely speak for all the painkillers.

Even so, he still made some joke about not getting up to greet me, he was trying to make me feel welcome. I was I admit really shocked by how he looked. And I could see from his wife and son, how worried they were.

But he insisted he would be able to do the interview shortly. His wife Dwina led me out of the kitchen and holding my hand, asked me not to say at that point, that he was being treated for cancer.

I promised I would respect her wishes and we came up with a choice of words that would explain his appearance while maintaining the family's privacy at what was clearly a difficult time for them.

The plan was for Robin and The Soldiers to perform the song for our camera in one of the rooms of the house, now set up with equipment, mixing desks and microphones.

Would it be ok though asked a manager, if Robin mimed instead of singing live as he was too weak. Of course I added, and then he was led into the room, moving so slowly, his family helping him, I doubted that he would make it to the microphone.

Robin Gibb performing with the soldiers in his Oxfordshire home. Credit: ITV News

But he greeted The Soldiers with a smile and a joke, making them feel at ease - they were clearly rather starstruck. And then the music began and Robin Gibb became the great performer he is.

He seemed to summon all his strength, with his son and Dwina looking on anxiously but proudly, willing him on.

"I just gotta get a message to you, hold on, hold on", he reached out with his arms as he mouthed the words of the song he had written so long ago. And as the words rang out again he reached out plaintively, just as he would on stage. And as he did, the moment seem to get to all of us. Me, my cameraman, the PRs around us, his family.

"Hold on" the words resounded around the room, "Hold on", and I tearfully thought, and I was not the only one there, that that's what we were saying to him, in our heads. Hold on, Hold on.

I never hear that song now without thinking of him, and that occasion. Of the interview he insisted on giving afterwards, faltering as he spoke, but determined to make his point. He was brave, generous, polite, gallant even. And when I tweeted that I was in his home, with him, the response I got showed what an extraordinary impact he, his music, the Bee Gees had had on so many people.

I gripped his hands as I left, thanking him for his time, for the performance, and I tried to say what a privilege it was, how much I adored his music, but, you know, without going over the top. Of letting him know that I feared I would never get the chance to meet him again.

And I never did. But there will always be that unforgettable occasion when I was allowed into his home.

And there will always be the music, some of the most beautiful and enduring songs ever written.