A film by Haydn Keenan

‘Bob Bairamian – The Holmewood Years’ is a film tribute created by Australian filmmaker Haydn Keenan who attended Holmewood House school from 1959 – 1964. The finished production has been edited from footage currently being assembled for a full length television documentary about the extraordinary environment Bob oversaw during his years as Headmaster of the school.

For more information and to support this quality film contact:
Executive Producer Charles Burt : chasburt2@gmail.com

Responses to the video

And to the many personal reflections you’ve harvested on Bob himself I would add just these two:

  • In the summer of my penultimate and final years at HH (‘67 & ‘68) Bob drove me (and Rory Fane-Hervey in ‘67, Mike Pritchard in ’68) the length of the country in his magnificent white Merc so we could take the scholarship exams for Ampleforth while he stayed as a guest of the Benedictine monks (whose hospitality he rated very highly). Can you imagine how special we felt? How supported and encouraged? But that wasn’t all, the following two summers he drove up further scholarship candidates (Hugh Scott was one, I recall) and on one of the evenings he took us previous scholars out for a gourmet meal at the most reputable pub, many miles away on the Yorkshire moors. I met rump steak for the first time (he sent mine back because he regarded it as too small) and Chateau D’Yquem with desert…a wine now the preserve of billionaires, I suspect. I can’t begin to account for the long term impact on me of such acts of largesse and respect for us as future adults.
  • His handwriting on end-of-term reports. Every other master wrote neatly and to be read. Bob wrote in the same voice with which he took over the main passage or the gym at assembly time – with absolute freedom, confidence and authority – the same heady cocktail he mixed for every generation of us boys who passed through his care.
    Talk about making a difference in the world!

I think Francis mentioned my best memories of Bob, Morning Assembly. Striding down the hall, immaculately dressed as always, with just a hint of Tabac aftershave. And he would make his announcements, more scholastic achievements, sporting success, some more cricket bats for the Addo’s (what did they do with them all?)

And that, I think is a good part of what he did for the school. He made us all part of the team, part of the success. You didn’t have to be out on the playing field, or sitting the exam, when one part of Holmewood succeeded, we all succeeded. We didn’t have any losers at Holmewood, we were all winners.

ROBERT BAIRAMIAN MA (Cantab)

It is with considerable sadness that we report the death of one of the most colourful characters in the history of club cricket, Robert Bairamian, the former Head master of Holmewood House, Aberdour and Claremont. He was 83.

Bob, as he was universally known, the self-appointed Armenian Ambassador and Hon. Commander-in-Chief of the Armenian Cavalry, was an ever-present in Kent and Sussex cricket for over 60 years, representing a variety of clubs including Bluemantle’s, Band of Brothers, Stragglers of Asia, Invalids, MCC and Kent 2nd XI. He was a highly competitive allrounder, scoring thousands of runs and playing two first class games whilst at Cambridge. His erstwhile father in law, Tom Crawford, also played for Kent with distinction, later becoming club President, and it was he who made Bob’s sons, Rupert and Justin, life members on the day they were born.

Following schooling at Dover College and Cambridge, packed off by his father, Sir Vahé Bairamian, the Lord Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Bob’s career as a headmaster was never dull, inspiring many thousands of children from all over the world, building lasting friendships with them and reveling in their successes. His enthusiasm matched theirs, and his boundless energy imbued a loyalty that is remembered by his charges and staff alike.

Bluemantle week became more than a cricket festival under Bob’s inimitable leadership. Full blown lunch parties, evening drinks, pre-match visits to various local pubs and the inevitable response to the question of lunch…..”the woman is cooking pig” and then “are you getting enough?” made the week an unmissable fixture in both the sports and social diaries. His nicknames for his players, often shouted from the top row of pavilion, were highly imaginative; Toby Poesrcott-Edgerton became The Power Driven Hedgecutter; The Cloke twins, Cloak and Dagger. The list goes on and on.

Over the years many restaurants and hostelries were tried, some with more success than others. True to character, Bob would befriend the more like-minded restaurateurs, most of whom were delighted to see him and his band of merry men clad in whites, as they knew they were in for a good night with the till ringing and an increase in decibels that betrayed the usually sedate surroundings for the other 51 weeks of the year. A favourite was The Giggling Squid, which, of course, became known as the Bluemantle Thai. There would very rarely be an evening where Bob would not insist on high jinks somewhere, often driven by trusty friends such as the late James Wesson or Rex Roberts (rarely out of second gear). Many an Old Amplefordian, Moose or Straggler felt the effects of a night out with Bob, but no one had more stamina or enthusiasm for the next day’s game than he.

A fuller obituary will appear in time, but in recording the death of one of life’s real characters, Bluemtantle’s CC bids farewell to its Imperator, the unique Headmaster, Bob.

The service of thanksgiving is at St John the Baptist, Penshurst on Friday 28th September at 2 pm.

Nigel Wheeler: President

Nigel Leonard Wheeler is a lifelong Man of West Kent, having been born and raised in East Peckham where his family has farmed for 4 generations, growing fruit and hops and to where he has returned.
Nigel attended Hilden Oaks, Lancing College and Oxford before becoming a teacher and housemaster at Eastbourne College, and Christ’s College in New Zealand. As Master-in-Charge of cricket and director of many fine plays, he has nurtured exceptional talents, such as Eddie Izard, James Kirtley and Ed Giddins, the last 2 being worthy Bluemantles as well as winning England caps.
When Nigel retired from Eastbourne he carried on sitting as a JP and became High Sherriff of Kent in 2007-8, throwing himself into many philanthropic causes in the county that he continues to support.
As a schoolboy Nigel founded the Scorpions Cricket Club, which carried on for 5 decades playing at home and overseas, carrying out cricketing missionary work in outposts of our beloved summer game such as Paris, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Argentina, Chile, Namibia, and Portugal.
As a player Nigel too often volunteered selflessly to bat down the order and let others enjoy themselves instead of displaying his own considerable classic prowess. He always scored runs on The Nevill and only once had to be carried off with blood streaming from his forehead when he was, typically, too early onto the pull shot.
Nigel is also a keen member of the MCC, Band of Brothers, Kent CCC, as well as being a member of several other wandering clubs and he is also a Hopper.
The Bluemantle’s CC is extremely fortunate that Nigel has honoured us by agreeing to stand as our President.

John Bagnall DSC

John ( Bags) Bagnall DSC. 21st June 1922 – 2nd April 2018 ‘declared’.

John, fondly known as Bags, Baggy, Baggers enjoyed a long spell at the wicket as Treasurer and Chairman of The Bluemantle’s Cricket Club.
He passed away peacefully after a long stay in hospital and his funeral will be held at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium on Thursday 3rd May at 1.30pm. No flowers please but donations to the Club are welcome.

I was at Holmewood as a pupil under the Headship of Bob Baraimian when JB joined as a teacher and met my mother who was a matron there with whom he had many wonderful years of married life .

The cricket square and grounds at Holmewood always looked good thanks to JB.

Jeffery Rae ( step son)

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