'Adam Osmayev told me he'd be the president one day - and drank all my cider'

Cahal Milmo meets the man assigned to be Adam Osmayev’s guardian in Britain

For Adam Osmayev, the manicured countryside of the Cotswolds was a world away from the battle-scarred landscape of his Chechen homeland. But as he mixed with students at his expensive private school, he did not forget his roots.

While staying at the home of the temporary guardian where he and other pupils from Wycliffe College spent their holidays, the tall, pensive teenager was once asked what he wanted to do when he was older. His reply was categorical: “I want to be president. President of Chechnya.”

Robert Workman, a former timber exporter who, with his wife, took on the role of looking after Adam and one of his cousins after their parents, both senior figures in Chechnya’s then pro-Russian government, sent them to school in Britain in 1994. Mr Workman would take in eight or nine international Wycliffe students at a time after being appointed as their temporary legal guardian so they could be cared for during half-term or longer school holidays.

Sitting in his home close to the £10,000-a-term school, Mr Workman, 73, said: “It’s extraordinary to think of Adam facing such serious charges. He was a confident, ambitious young man – as we could see when my wife asked him what he wanted to do in life.

“But he also wanted nothing to do with what was going on back home. I remember we had a Russian student staying at the same time as Adam and his cousin. I asked Adam if they were OK with the Russian lad and he said ‘Of course, what is going on is adult business.’”

Mr Workman, who has now retired from the guardianship role, said he remembered Adam fondly despite the Chechen, along with several of his fellow students, emptying much of his stock of home-brewed cider during the night. He was also a keen wrestler. “He and his cousin would practice on our lawn,” he said. “They were amazingly fast. There would be a tangle of limbs and suddenly one of them would be on top of the other. They were just lively lads.”

“The one thing I would say is that he was a born leader,” he added. “On one occasion another Chechen or Russian lad refused to help out with the washing up. Adam took the boy outside. I could hear him talking to him. A few minutes later, the boy came back in and picked up the tea towel without saying another word.”

He occasionally attended a mosque held in a house in a nearby town but showed no sign of zealotry. Instead, he pursued his studies and did well, securing three As and a C at A-level. His school report portrays an accomplished student. “Throughout his time in the Sixth Form, Adam has set himself high standards; usually he has managed to meet them,” it reads. [He] is charming an generally self-assured young man.” His tutor did note a “less certain side to his nature”, but the overall tone of the report, provided by Mr Osmayev’s wife Amina and confirmed as genuine by a former teacher of the school, was wholeheartedly positive. It concluded: “I feel that he has great potential and the determination to make the most of that potential.”

Mr Workman said he had heard nothing from him since. He said: “In all honesty, I believed he was dead because of what was happening in Chechnya. I’m relieved to find out he’s still alive, if not quite in the circumstances you would hope.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?