Robert Armstrong

Hello, I’m Robert and welcome to my website. Please view the site and if I can assist you further please initially contact me by email at robert@rachauffeurs.com.

I never forget you have a choice when selecting your chauffeur service so permit me to tell you a little about myself, how I came to be in chauffeuring and how RA Chauffeurs operates.

Born in London in 1957 I attended King’s College, Wimbledon before becoming a boarder at Sutton Valence School in Kent.

From an early age I yearned for a career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Having completed my ‘O’ levels I began training for my Private Pilots License, at nearby Headcorn Flying School.

Shortly after my seventeenth birthday I obtained my PPL adding a cross channel rating before attending the RAF’s OASC Officer Aircrew Selection Centre at Biggin Hill. My dreams of a career as a RAF pilot were soon dashed as I was deemed permanently medically unfit for aircrew due to a medical history of hay fever related symptoms as a child.

I spent a couple of years working at Celmi an Outdoor Adventure Education project in Snowdonia, Wales before returning to London. With my love for driving and European travel I took some lorry driving jobs and began training for a Class One HGV license. Chatting to some coach drivers in the south of France I changed tack and obtained a Class One PSV. I subsequently enjoyed five years or more driving coach tours throughout Britain and much of  Europe ranging from driving the Ice hockey team on their match tours of  Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden to the Riviera Express for French Leave.

I particularly enjoyed the fortnightly runs down to Aix en Provence, St Maxime, Fréjus, Cannes and Nice quickly developing a love for France. Whether it be a few days in Normandy, a week in The Alps or wine tasting in the Loire valley accompanied by wine guide Monsieur Gerrard Varennes I feel at home in France.

In case you are wondering I am showing a small group of  American ladies part of a crop of Brussel sprouts. The ladies toured a different part of Britain on each visit enjoying our stately homes and gardens, fine hotels and the occasional antique shop. Highlights of my coach driving career include a period driving Sir Bobby Robson and The England Football Team and The Chelsea Football Team.

In 1982 I married Kate requiring me to remain nearer to home so my wings were promptly clipped!

I  joined the company contracted to provide the compimentary car service to First and Business class passengers for  British Caledonian, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic. I regularly drove Sir Richard Branson and members of his family. Frequent favourites included photographer Norman Parkinson and Tubular Bells composer Mike Oldfield.

In order to attract business passengers to Gatwick, Virgin offered their complimentary car service nationwide. I gained considerable knowledge of London and the UK during my two years driving Virgin Upper Class passengers and was cleared for unescorted airside driving at Heathrow and Gatwick permitting me to drive VIP passengers and flightdeck crews directly to or from their aircraft.

It was one or two of the more frequent travellers that encouraged me to start my own chauffeur service so in 1989 I bought a Ford Granada Scorpio and Armstrong Chauffeur Services was formed.

My first account was the directors of Telstar Records based in Barnes, London. It was courtesy of Telstar that I became entrusted with driving my first celebrity clients, Right Said Fred! I have happy memories of driving The Freds during their “I’m too sexy” and “Deeply Dippy” hits. I will always be grateful to Telstar, Richard, Fred and Rob for their contribution to launching my chauffeuring career. I still laugh recalling such experiences as us all being ejected from eating sandwiches in Albert Square on The Eastenders set during a break from recording Top of the Pops next door.

I recall Richard proclaiming “I feel like George Bush” as we enjoyed a Police motorcycle escort away from the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival. That was when I learned you let the bikes go on ahead not keep up with them!! Stopping for a pint at a typical miner’s pub Richard strolled into the Bar still dressed in his stage outift, a black Lycra body suit! gained valuable experience driving “The Freds” to their Radio One roadshows, Top of The Pops appearances, TV and Radio interviews and record signings.

I was asked to provide wedding cars for Miss Emma Crawford, daughter of  Mr Michael Crawford. Emma referred me to her godfather the multi Oscar winning film score composer John Barry. Mr Barry is responsible for some of the most iconic film scores ever written including the early James Bond scores, Midnight Cowboy, Born Free, Zulu, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves.

Sharing a compatible sense of humour I enjoyed some twelve years driving Mr Barry often being invited to sit beside the mixing desks in Abbey Road or Air Studios as he recorded his scores. Other memories include being treated to seats on the stage of  The Royal Albert Hall as he conducted his film score concerts. I was thrilled and proud the day my eldest son Michael played Bond on the piano down the phone to Mr Barry at home in Long Island, New York.

I was delighted to drive Mr Barry to Buckingham Palace to receive his OBE. Without doubt he remains one of my most cherished clients and is greatly missed. 1933-2010.

It was during my time as Mr Barry’s chauffeur in London that I was approached by Decca Records to drive some of their other classic artists. As a consequence I met Mr Hans Zimmer who was recording his soundtrack from Gladiator. Mr Zimmer remains a client to this day and since Gladiator has scored such films as The Pirates of The Caribbean, Blackhawk Down, Mission Impossible, Sherlock Holmes and Batman the Dark Knight. I enjoyed taunting Mr Zimmer when he used Mr Barry’s Born Free theme in the opening sequence of Madagascar. I was delighted to drive Mr Zimmer and provide vehicles on his Hans Zimmer Live European tour. 

Over the years I have acquired a client list of mostly VIP, corporate and celebrity clients including a Head of State and his royal family. In addition to the film and music industries I drive for stars of Formula One, a large cosmetics company, a dress designer and clients of a jet charter company. Striving to maintain a quality service to my clients rather than employ drivers I opt to reciprocate with fellow like-minded chauffeurs with similar cars and similar clients. In that way we keep each other busy whilst safeguarding each others clients and business interests. Collectively we are able to offer alternatives if and when we are not available to drive our clients and enabling us to meet the daunting requirements of multi vehicle hires.

Please enjoy my website. If you do not find what you are looking for please advise me what is missing? I look forward to assisting you with your chauffeur requirements and welcoming you to RA Chauffeurs.

Robert Armstrong