Barry Banyard

An active member in the 1960s, Barry, who died on 22 May 2014, was one of those happy souls who contributed to the life of the Club in his own special way, albeit for a relatively short period.  He joined the Club in 1961 from Auriol, becoming a Resident on the top floor, and was active and quite successful in 4s and 8s, being selected for a Wyfold IV in 1963 which got through one round. He tried his hand at sculling, winning Junior Sculls at City of Norwich Regatta and even completed the Boston Marathon course in a time of 4hrs 41m.

Barry was best remembered at London though for his spectacular moustache of florid proportions.  An interior designer, he transformed his Resi room into a wondrous piece of modern living, but memorably also decorated the Long Room for a New Year’s Eve dinner and dance in the mid-60s in Chinese style with numerous hanging banners reputedly featuring laundry lists, and a galaxy of stars affixed to the ceiling, all hand-made.

LRC on the left, Yare RC on the right.  L to R – Peter Hilditch, Doug Melvin, Graham Beech, John Pepys. On the right, Simon Crosse (almost hidden at the back), and second right, Nick Cooper, are also longstanding members of LRC. 

Barry moved to East Anglia, working first for Fielden & Mawson (a firm of architects who through Simon Crosse had been involved in the major development of the Clubhouse in 1969-71), and then as Head of the Interior Design Department at Great Yarmouth College of Art.  He married Marion in Norwich Cathedral, sans mouche, where LRC and Yare RC shared the honours as his guard of honour (see photo alongside).  It was typical of Barry to organise a pair oars race round the island on which Norwich RC stands on the morning of his wedding, and then to present a prize to the winners at the wedding reception afterwards.

Barry was not only great fun but was kind enough to remember LRC in his will too, setting an example to others.  A few years ago he decided he must have an LRC Henley blazer, so drove down to Clothiers in Cambridge to have one made and fitted.  We send our belated condolences to Marion.


Colonel Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey, who passed away on 8 November 2013 aged 84, was a man of many parts and larger than life.  He joined the Club in 1959 in the middle of an Army and Air Corps career which started in 1947 and took him overseas to Korea and Malaya on active service, Germany, East Africa, Suez and Aden. 

Hickey’s interpretation of the strain on Captain Keith TicehurstWhen on postings to London he would come to LRC and speak at Wednesday night dinners and give hilarious accounts of his military life, which will be warmly remembered. He continued irregular rowing “until his knees gave up in 1996” and was instrumental in organising an LRC visit to a regatta in Berlin. Michael was an excellent cartoonist, often using the back of menu cards at annual dinners; a number of his witty works of art hang in the clubhouse. He was also an ‘official’ cartoonist for the Club’s 125th anniversary publication in 1981.

Michael occupied his retirement as a noted military historian, writing books on airborne warfare, Gallipoli, and the First World War, and was a research fellow in military studies at both Birmingham University and Kings College, London.  A favourite relaxation was choral singing – he won a bursary, and had been head chorister, at Magdalen College School, as had his father and grandfather – and his life was remembered fittingly at a choral evensong in the College Chapel.

We send our belated condolences to his wife, Bridget, and their two sons.  Their household included two dogs and at one time “a domesticated turkey”. 


Sir John Mayhew-Sanders

John Mayhew-Sanders, who died on 1 November 2013 aged 82, was elected Captain of the Club in the centenary year 1956.  Whilst serving in the Royal Navy he completed an engineering degree at Jesus College, Cambridge, and rowed in the college’s winning Ladies’ Plate crew in 1953 at 5.  He then followed the well-trodden path to London, which had started in the 1930s under Steve Fairbairn’s influence. The Club’s Centenary Dinner on 11 October 1956 was held at the Grocers’ Hall during John’s term of office and it fell to him to respond to the Toast to the Club delivered by Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, the former Prime Minister of Australia.  John was in his mid-20s by the time he was elected captain, and had embarked upon articles with his father’s accountancy practice in Oxford Street, so he did not row at Henley in 1957. He rejoined the Club in 2001 after being sought out and invited to a Captains’ dinner in November that year, but in the event was unable to attend.

John pursued a leading career in management consultancy and industry, was active in promoting Anglo-Soviet trade, and was appointed a member of the Government’s British Overseas Trade Board.  He was knighted for services to exports in 1982. 


Michael Hill

British Rowing made the following announcement on 10 March 2015:

Michael Hill, the missing Latymer Upper School, London and Thames rowing coach, was recovered from the Tideway on Monday and has been formally identified. The 48-year-old coach had been missing since an apparent capsize on the River Thames at Putney on 2 February. 

Michael had an enormous impact on crews he coached on the Tideway and friends from Latymer, London and Thames gathered to cherish his memory earlier last month.  On 13 February an informal gathering was held at Latymer with many of the school attending including British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps and the RNLI crew who had been involved in the search for Michael.  

Two days later more friends and family remembered Michael at the Boustead Cup – the historic annual fixture between eights from Thames and London RC.  London RC’s Alan Foster paid tribute to a coach whose zest for life made rowing fun for the many people he came across, saying: “At Latymer a display board was crammed with postcard-sized tributes from his J15 and WJ15 crews. I cannot hope to tell you what was in each one but certain phrases recurred about ‘Hilly’ as he was known, such as: ‘kind’, ‘patient’, ‘true gentleman’, ‘made my rowing fun’ and ‘always up for a laugh’.

A row-over was performed by women’s crews from both clubs as a tribute to Michael, who had been coaching a crew from Thames on the evening of 2nd February.  

Then, instead of a minute’s silence, family members requested a minute’s applause. Annamarie Phelps said: “Michael was a hugely popular figure among the rowing community along the Tideway and his enthusiasm for coaching always shone through. On behalf of British Rowing, our condolences are with Michael’s family, the school and clubs at this sad time. He is much missed.”

Amy Fenton writes:

Having initially joined London Rowing Club as a full rowing member in 1990 whilst working as a violin restorer, Michael returned to LRC in 2012 as a member of the coaching team. He had recently started coaching at Latymer Upper School but was also eager to come back to his former club which to him felt “like coming home”.

Following the launch of the Learn to Row programme in the summer of 2012, Michael bravely took on the leadership of the newly formed Development Squad, which he subsequently coached for two years, with gusto. Under his direction, over twenty adult novices were successful in gaining their first points within months of picking up blades. Notable successes were achieved at local regattas on the Tideway, at Marlow Spring Regatta, at the Club’s own Metropolitan Regatta, and the end of season trips to St Neots Regatta, which in 2014 saw LRC crews victorious in seven of their ten finals (see below).


Michael was well known at the Club for his friendly and humorous character. But he will also be particularly remembered for his great empathy and kind nature. He took the time to get to know his squad members as individuals, and to understand the professional and family commitments which competed for their training hours. He strove to develop a flexible yet challenging programme which respected and maximised their limited time. Above all, he delivered this with an infectious enthusiasm for the sport, an incredible patience and an uproarious sense of humour, which incentivised his athletes to go the extra mile whilst enjoying every opportunity to train and race. Perhaps even more notable than the successes achieved by his squad on the water, is the fact he created a tight-knit, unbreakable family of rowers who cherish the time he gave them, the skills he taught them and the very happy memories he leaves them to continue to share with one another.

In addition to the Development Squad, Michael was also the lead coach on several of the Club’s Learn to Row courses, enabling over 50 beginners to experience the joy of taking to the water in the summer months, with many progressing into the Development Squad and some beyond to the Senior Squad and to race at Henley.  Memories of Michael from those who knew him for just a short time on these courses make reference to his wonderful sense of humour, his supportive and welcoming personality and his unshakable passion for rowing.

Michael will be dearly missed by those who had the pleasure of training under his direction at London and by his very many friends, pupils and colleagues within the wider club and rowing community.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are extended to Michael’s family, in particular his three children; Christian (a talented rower himself), Sam and Emily of whom he was an immensely proud father, to their mother Peridot, and to his partner Sara and her family.


Daniel Topolski

As has been widely reported in the media, Dan Topolski passed away on Saturday 21 February 2015 in London after a lengthy battle against leukaemia, at the age of 69. Others will speak of his coaching career at OUBC and at GB level, and as a producer, journalist, author and commentator.  This note will speak of him as a London man, which he was through and through. 

Dan was elected to LRC at the age of 19 in 1964.  He was the son of Feliks Topolski  (a famous artist with a very distinctive style of drawing, and a favourite of our Patron;  his witty portrayal of Henley heavies hangs in the Fairbairn Room).  Dan joined from Westminster School, where he had been in the first eight, rowing twice in the PE Cup, and was elected Head of the Water (captain of rowing in Westminster-speak).

Dan was a lightweight par excellence, weighing in at just over 10 stone at school and 11 to 11 ½ stone in much of his rowing and sculling career.  Despite his modest dimensions, he was to bring LRC into winning mode from the late 60s until the mid-70s with sheer technical skill and tenacity.  He rowed on either side of the boat and was equally happy at opposite ends, be it bow or stroke, but he probably favoured the 7 thwart in eights the most.

He first rowed in an LRC crew at Henley the year he joined, and then after two Boat Races and Isis/OUBC crews, his rowing career took off after he returned to the Club in 1969.  He won the Wyfold that year, in the Club’s first post-WWII win in fours, at bow with Nick Cooper, Peter Harrison and Chris Blackwall.  The crew was later selected to represent GB in the European Championships (precursor of the World Championships).  In 1970 he won the Britannia with Cooper, Sturge and Dart and cox R Sherman.  He was central to LRC’s successful involvement in lightweight rowing in the 70s, culminating in the gold medal he won in the lightweight eight in the World Championships in Amsterdam in 1977.  The crew (with Ray Penney on board as cox) also won the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley that year - quite exceptional for a lightweight crew! His last year representing GB was in the following year.  He was elected a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta in December 1991.

Dan kept a sculling boat at the Club and was a successful sculler.  More recently he would come down, usually during the day, for an outing, on occasion with his son Luke in a club double.  He was one of the first to be elected to Honorary Membership when the honour was revived in 2001.  The Club is on the point of naming one of its new eights after Dan, and a framed photo of him for the new ‘internationals wall’ on the main entrance was being discussed with him in the weeks before his death.  Sadly, he was taken from us before he could unveil them both.

There is an expression to describe excellence, “of the first water”, and this may be quite an apt way of describing best his standing and powers of friendship that he brought to rowing and LRC life, and how he contributed to the Club’s success.  We were lucky to have him amongst our membership.  Our sympathy and condolences go out to his family.

(Photos courtesy of John Shore)