Robert Reginald Fenn (Bob) Baker
Sadly we recently lost Bob Baker, as many of you reading this will already know. I wrote to club members at the time and on Monday 5 September many of us celebrated (very well!) his passing at the club.
Bob was a man of many parts but Bob’s family asked me to say a few words about him at The Wake predominately from a rugby perspective and afterwards it was suggested by many that it should be in the match day programme and on our website, which of course we are delighted to do………..
Bob was an Honorary Life Vice President of the Club, a privilege bestowed on very few, and was part of our lifeblood as a player, official and supporter for many, many years. I knew him through Salisbury RFC for over 50 years.
He first played for Salisbury RFC in the 1950s and through the 1960s usually as a second row, mainly for the 1st XV. He was also a member of the successful U21s team that Dudley Williams ran for a while, alongside Dave Jugg and Alan Rogers.
Beyond rugby, Bob was a keen sportsman, including skiing, water and snow, and hunting. I can still recall chatting with him on his horse in front of the Guildhall on Boxing Days when Wilton Hunt used to start from there.
Besides playing, Bob soon took on a number of committee roles for the Club including, to my knowledge, the big three, Secretary, Chairman and President.
He was hugely instrumental in us moving from changing areas behind the Cathedral Hotel in Salisbury to our first clubhouse at the bottom of the main pitch in the 1960s.
Then, in the late 1970s, the move from there to our present clubhouse building. I was also involved in that project so I know how just hard and persuasively he worked to make that happen.
I smile as I write this, reflecting on what incredibly different changing rooms Bob saw, from a back room at the Cathedral Hotel to our very plush changing rooms we now have!
Bob was Chairman from 1975 to 1983 and was then President from 1996 to 2008. That is 20 years' service but it tells only a small part of the story because Bob was a lifelong servant and supporter of Salisbury RFC.
I remember playing for the club in the 1970s and 1980s when Bob was running the family business, Chas H Baker in Milford Street, which of course meant him being there on Saturday afternoons. However as soon as he shut the shop he always came straight to the club to buy the team a jug, and then a beer for himself.
We always had a little, well rehearsed and very tuneful, rendition ready for his arrival, which almost obligated him to buy us a jug, but we all knew it wasn’t necessary.
His unconditional support of the players continued right through to last season.
When I told Rob my son, who recently played Senior rugby here for 12 years, about Bob’s death he said, “Whatever you say Dad, make sure you say he was a real Gentleman, who always supported us and always had time for a chat after the game.”
He spanned the generations.
Seemingly always happy and humble, Bob made huge and wise contributions over many years to our club, and also to all the other groups and friends that he was involved with. We will all miss him very much.
Richard Larcombe, President, Salisbury RFC