Robert James Crofts-Bolster
24th January 1961 – 6th January 2012
Adrian Orchard (1972-1979) writes:
Bob grew up in Little Baddow in Essex with his brother Rick and sister Sarah. He and his Brother attended Holmwood House prep school, where he showed signs of a talent for science subjects. Their uncle was Martin Irving, one time French teacher at Framlingham College and later proprietor of Framlingham Tractors, and the link with the town determined his entry to the College in 1974. At school he was always known just as Bolster, he adopted his parent’s full name in later life when Professional regulations made it necessary.
Bob was never in entirely in tune with the rigid routine of life in the College in the seventies, and as he progressed through the school he developed the ability to turn most situations to his advantage using a blend of charm and humour. These characteristics were to follow him through life. Whilst other pupils slept in Spartan dormitories, in the sixth form he managed to wangle a beautiful private room with views over the meres to the castle. No afternoon was complete for Bob without a long soak in the bath, and in his last term he was consequently late for tea almost every day. The catering manager always kept a plate of food aside for him though, a privilege only Bob could obtain.
Bob saved his energies for activities that truly interested him, and his determination to always improve gave him a single mindedness that meant he was never able to do anything in halves. He had a reputation as a fierce member of the rugby first XV, where his six foot plus frame made him a force to be contended with. Bob was also Captain of the school sailing club, and in later life said that his happiest memories of school were the summer afternoons spent sailing his Mirror dinghy at Orford Ness.
After a year spent living in London and travelling, Bob entered Sheffield University in 1980 to read Dentistry where he forged close friendships he maintained to the end. Despite a demanding regime of study, Bob would spend any free time he had on one of his expanding collection of activities, which included mountaineering, pot holing, diving and first XV Rugby for Sheffield University. He even became an amateur rally driver, and a trip with him in his Mini through the Peak district could be a hair-raising experience.
On graduating as a dentist, Bob returned south, and after spells at Greenwich hospital and in Chiswick, Bob entered a dental practice in Hutton in Essex where he practiced for many years. However, it was at this time Bob discovered the past-time that was to truly captivate him, flying. All his spare time and disposable income was spent at Southend airfield where he soon progressed to commercial flying, and became an instructor. At one point Bob would leave a day’s work at the dental practice to spend the night flying mail-runs to Ireland, returning to the surgery the next day with only meagre sleep. One felt for his patients the next morning.
In 1991 Bob met Helen, who he later married. Together they opened their own dental practice in Brasted, Kent, and they were followed by two daughters Charlotte and Rosie, who he referred to as his ‘treasures’. Bob was a popular dentist, and his kind and calm manner made him well suited for settling nervous patients. The fact that he opened his practice close to Biggin Hill airport was no coincidence, and as the years passed Bob spent an increasing proportion of his time flying there. Eventually he made the jump and retired from dentistry to become a professional pilot. In this time he racked up an impressive catalogue of flying qualifications. These included Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), and whist instructing in Florida earned the American Commercial (CPL) and Airline Transport (ATP) licence. Bob also attained the “FIC” (Flight Instructor Course) qualification, and in recent years trained many flight instructors.
Bob’s primary term of praise for his pupils was ‘good detail’, a catch-phrase for which he became well known in the Biggin Hill flying community. On returning from a flight the air traffic controllers would often ask if his pupil had shown ‘good detail’ that day. Bob’s temperament made him well suited to flight instruction; patience, clarity, enthusiasm and humour.
To his numerous friends Bob is remembered for his other loves; his family, an evening spent listening to music, and sharing a pint and a long chat in a warm pub with a friend. Bob found it next to impossible to keep a straight face for long, and almost any sentence would be concluded with a smile and his infectious laugh. Bob had an ability to talk to absolutely any one in any situation, had a genuine and intense interest in the lives and views of those with whom he conversed, and had the ability to make everyone he spoke to feel special. He will be missed by friends across the globe.
Bob leaves his wife Helen, daughters Charlotte (13) and Rose (8), his father Raymond and brother Rick.