Kerman Mirena Iriondo
As one of the niños vascos, Kerman came to the UK on the SS Habana in May 1937 at the age of eight, with his older sister, Keltse and two older brothers, Joseba and Imanol. Their four-year-old sister Ilare remained in Bilbao with their parents. Shortly after their arrival, the brothers were separated from Keltse when they left Stoneham camp in Eastleigh and were sent to a convent in Darlington, which was a very unhappy time for them all. Later Kerman moved to the colony in Barnet and was 'adopted' by Eleanor Roosevelt, appearing in various newspapers and on Pathé News, which did not suit this modest and shy teenager at all! He was one of the last few niños to finish up at The Culvers in Carshalton and it was here where he met his future wife, Manolita Abad (Sáez), also one of the travellers on the SS Habana.
After completing his studies at commercial college, he began his professional career working for Luis Portillo at Reuters and he lodged with the Portillo family for some time before moving into a flat in Fulham with Eduardo Martinez, Herminio Martinez and Josechu Martinez.
His early career was in the import/export trade where his attention to detail and the language skills common among the Basque children were put to good use. Later he worked for a number of merchant banks handling documentary credit arrangements for international trade.
He married Manolita in 1959 but never returned to the Basque Country to live. He was never to see his parents again as they died during the post-war period when he was unable to travel to Spain because of the rules on military service. However he and Eduardo did cycle through France to see family at the Spanish border, where he was able to catch up with two maiden aunts and his sister Ilare, who were by then able to travel abroad.
Kerman and Manolita settled in North West London along with the Sanz and Battle families and near his great friend Eduardo. A keen supporter of Chelsea and Athletic Bibao football teams, Kerman was also an avid follower of tennis, so much so that he could be found most Sunday mornings at the local tennis court battling out a match with Eduardo.
In more recent years they were able to take an active part in both their children's and grand-children's lives: they bought a home in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to be near their son Iñaki and another in Cumbria where Keltse and her family live. They were very sorry to say farewell to London which had been such an important place for them but they found that fewer and fewer of the Basque children still lived there and the pull of their own family was too strong.
Kerman was a man of great warmth and humour with a strong sense of justice and fair play. Passionate about his family and all things Basque (he would dance la jota vasca at the drop of a hat, as witnessed by family, friends and delegates at the 75th Anniversary commemoration event in Southampton), he always had his feet in two camps: he supported Spain in the world cup but loved the UK and spoke often of the extraordinary generosity of the ordinary people who helped the Basque children.
Kerman Mirena Iriondo Uresandi was born on 11 October 1928 in Bilbao. He died on the 15th October 2012 in Lancaster, England from heart failure, surrounded by Manolita, Keltse and Iñaki.