James Wesson

james-wessonIt is with great sadness that we report the sudden death of James Wesson, a Bluemantle of over 30 years standing.

James was introduced to the club by Bob Bairamian when teaching at Claremont School in 1982. A high quality batsman and equally effective off spin bowler, James had played 1st XI cricket for Repton, for whom he also played in the Cricketer Cup. Whilst at Claremont, James also qualified as an MCC player in 1984, the same year that he joined Rye Golf Club. He scored consistently highly for the Bluemantles, as well as for other clubs, such as Free Foresters, Band of Brothers, Yellowhammers, Scorpions and the Stragglers of Asia.

In East Sussex and Kent, James made close and lasting friendships through cricket and the Claremont connection, playing with his friends in the Common Room all over the countryside in those long and balmy Summers, travelling, in some peril, with Rex Roberts to many games, with Ant Lee, Bob, Rupert Bairamian, Ed Atkinson and Rupert “Paddy” Butler. Well known in many of the local hostelries as a result of post match refreshments, James would also entertain great local characters such as John Newbery and The Rev John Lambourne, with whom he would play golf on their regular trips to France with Ant.

On leaving Claremont, James was appointed Master in Charge of Cricket at Cheltenham College, where he enjoyed great success and popularity. From Cheltenham he moved to Radley College, where he became Housemaster of ‘A’ Social. His non-traditional style of pastoral care was hugely appreciated by his charges, creating a happy and laissez faire atmosphere that engendered loyalty and affection.

His real success whilst at Radley was in his time as Master in Charge of cricket. Losing one game in seven years, he forged a strong bond with the legendary Bert Robinson, and with Andy Wagner, the former MCC coach at Lord’s. It is no coincidence that under James, the first class game benefitted from the arrival of Andrew Strauss, Ben Hutton, Jamie Dalrymple and Robin Martin-Jenkins. Punctilious in his adherence to old fashioned standards of good manners and sportsmanship, James imbued a sense of pride in representing Radley, which was repaid by his team and appreciated by their parents.

When James left Radley to pursue his calling in the Church of England, the college was all the poorer. The transition from school master to priest may not have been an easy one, although it is well known that in one of the toughest parishes in the South of England, in Brighton, James was very highly valued, rising to the challenge as ever.

No Bluemantle Week went by without a day or two of “Wessona” holding court in the pavilion with his old friend, Bob. Stories of incidents past, glories re-lived, impersonations of old colleagues and voluble criticisms of fielding positions or bowling changes were de rigeur, becoming louder and louder as the wine consumption went up and up!

As a friend, player and committee member of many years standing, James will be sorely missed by all at the Nevill and in the wider world of cricket where he can claim to have nurtured a future England captain, as well as friendships with groundsmen, umpires and scorers.

A good man.

Rex Roberts 1939-2014

Many Bluemantles will be sad to hear of the passing of Rex Roberts. Rex was a regular at all Bluemantles matches throughout the eighties and nineties. His fearless wicket-keeping and batting will be well remembered by those who played with him, and the Club is indebted to him for his meticulous record-keeping and statistics.

The following was published locally about Rex:

A funeral service was held at St Jude & St Simon Church in East Dean on Monday 24th March for former village resident Rex Roberts who died recently after a long illness.

Rex was born in Highbury, London in 1939 and went to school at St Michael’s Prep in Limpsfield – along with his brother Guy.
The brothers later boarded at Eastbourne College before Rex went on to Dundee University to study Advanced Mathematics, before taking a Masters in Statistics.

Mr Roberts’ family had moved to East Dean in 1953 when his mother Nellie was appointed head of the village school.
On returning to the area Rex’s career was spent as a maths master and he served for many years at Claremont private school in St Leonards and later at St Bede’s.

In 1971 he was inspired to volunteer to teach at a school in Kenya where he stayed for three or four years.
He returned to teach there a few years later and also travelled to Botswana – his work oversees lasting almost a decade.
But his first love was always cricket and he played many roles for East Dean Cricket Club.

He was primarily a wicketkeeper on the field and also organised the fixtures for a number of years.He either umpired, scored or played for the East Dean Club for the best part of 50 years and was very well-known in cricketing circles in the Eastbourne area. In addition, he was a stalwart of Bluemantle’s cricket at The Nevill, Tunbridge Wells and was both player and secretary for many years. He meticulously kept all the players aware of their performances on the field by way of the season’s averages.

He became poorly with bowel cancer in 2007 and underwent major surgery.He made a partial recovery but spent the remaining years of his life being well cared for at Hailsham House Nursing Home. Warm tributes were paid to Rex at the funeral by his niece Alison and he was then buried at the East Dean church cemetery alongside his mother Nellie.