Chutinant "Nick" Bhirombhakdi '76, P’09 has been selected as this year’s Community Service Award recipient by the Hotchkiss Alumni Association. Bhirombhakdi is president and CEO of Boon Rawd Brewery Co., Ltd., and chair of Singha Estate PCL, both based in Thailand. A lifelong athlete who holds a black belt in karate, Bhirombhakdi has dedicated much of his spare time to various sports and athletic associations and federations. In particular, he has been a strong supporter of para athletes, advocating for their rights in the world of competitive sports.
For more than 17 years, he has been involved with sport activities for athletes with impairments, and he has been a four-time president of the Paralympic Committee of Thailand.
Along with working with the Paralympic Committee, Bhirombhakdi also serves on committees for the Sports Authority of Thailand and the National Sports Development Fund, and he is the former vice chairman of the country’s Sports Reform Committee. He was the charter president of the Thailand Karate Association and advisor to Thailand Lacrosse Association. In 2019, he was nominated to serve as a member of the board of trustees of Agitos Foundation, the leading global organization developing sport activities for people with impairments.
“I am tremendously honored to be selected for Hotchkiss’s Community Service Award,” said Bhirombhakdi. He credited Hotchkiss and his family for igniting his passion to help others. His grandfather, who founded Boon Rawd Brewery 88 years ago, impressed upon him the importance of helping others in whatever way he could. “So, as a family we have always helped those in need,” he said.
Of all his volunteer efforts, he has found his work with the para athletes the most rewarding.
“When the committee invited me to be manager of the team when it competed in the Philippines in 2006, it was the first time I came into daily contact with the athletes themselves. I became very close to many of them, and I am inspired by their drive and passion,” he said.
Through his involvement, Thai para athletes have made a mark in the world, winning many world championships in their respective sports. In the Paralympics Tokyo 2020, Thai para athletes won five gold medals, five silver medals and eight bronze medals, achieving a 25th ranking in the world.
Bhirombhakdi also developed a program to recruit Thailand’s former disabled or injured military persons as para athletes to represent their country. He worked to change the laws governing sports by seeking parity in prize money for para athletes and in training facilities.
Born in Thailand, Bhirombhakdi came to Hotchkiss as a lower mid from the Cardigan Mountain School, where he currently serves as a trustee. His son, Naiyanobh ("Toy"), is a member of the Class of 2009.
He knew the minute he passed through Scoville Gate that Hotchkiss was the fit for him, he said in an Alum of the Month article in 2016. "I came to Hotchkiss with Robert Chartener '76, who was at Cardigan Mountain with me, and our friendship continues to this day. In Lakeville, I learned discipline and graduated with very good writing abilities. I have many Thai friends and family members who went to other prep schools, but none of them came out with writing skills as good as mine," he said. After graduating from Hotchkiss, Bhirombhakdi attended Boston University, where he took up what would become a lifelong interest in karate. “Karate teaches you to resist instant gratification and to focus on long-term and meaningful goals,” he said.
After graduating college, he began a career in banking at European American Bank in New York City, before returning to Thailand in the ’80s to run Boon Rawd, Thailand's largest brewery.
Athletics continue to remain a very important part of Bhirombhakdi's life. Up until he was 51, he played lacrosse for the Thailand National Team. He still practices martial arts, skis, and scuba dives –– and he has even driven his Harley-Davidson across the continent.
Below you can watch a replay of the All-School ceremony from April 8.
Presented annually, the Community Service Award honors the service contributions that Hotchkiss graduates have made to their respective communities, whether local, national, or international. The Award seeks to recognize individuals who in the estimation of the Nominating Committee of the Board of Governors of the Alumni Association, demonstrate through their volunteer and/or vocational endeavors an exemplary sense of caring, initiative, and ingenuity.
To read about the Paralympic Committee of Thailand visit: www.paralympic.org