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.