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Wednesday
Apr092014

John Williams

John died on 29 March 2014. He was born in 1935, and went to Malvern College.  He learned to row at Thames which he joined in 1957.  He joined London Rowing Club in 1981 as a coach, and coached novices for four years.  He then coxed the Irregulars for several years and had a sculling boat at LRC. Despite his diminutive physique he was a good oarsman and always tried hard.


John Williams coxing the Irregulars in the Keith Ticehust painting

Sunday
Mar092014

Martin Feuer

Martin died on 5 January 2014, aged 78 after a long and courageously fought battle against cancer, leaving behind his wife Angela and their two sons and daughter and their grandchildren. Family and friends attending his funeral at the Jewish Cemetery in Bushey heard a brief history of Martin’s life which he had dictated days before his death to a friend who remembered how Martin had told him: “although a faithful believer, I sometimes felt that rowing was my real religion.”  

Martin’s earlier life was one of struggles and stresses. Born in Danzig in 1935 his mother took him three years later to Palestine where her husband Hermann ran a major hotel in Tel Aviv. This was only months before the outbreak of the second World War to evade the imminent advance of the Nazis and their invasion of Danzig, then a semi-autonomous city-state.

After finishing school in 1953 Martin joined the army of his country which by then had become an independent state, spending much of his time on the front line under the Golan Heights. The sight of seeing not only his friends but also Arabs being killed depressed him greatly and inspired him to seek an opportunity of going abroad, England being his favourite choice. He arrived in London in 1956 and succeeded at getting a place at the Hotel & Catering Management School, now part of the University of Surrey.   

Little of Martin’s past was ever noticeable during his many years at the Club -  he joined in 1972 - because what counted to him was to be able to row,  be loyal to his fellow Irregulars and to the Club in general, qualities which extended widely when considering that he lived far out of London, was utterly reliable in keeping to agreed times of outings and highly supportive of dinners, functions or meetings at the Club. Even if delayed by traffic jams Martin would appear with a jovial apology and immediately join the fray at  meetings or afloat.

It was almost as if the word ‘Irregular’ had been invented for Martin because this nickname,  meant to define members who row on different days and at different times, fitted him like a glove. Although he had begun rowing at the age of 13 this early start had not necessarily given him any specific degree of proficiency other than his immense enjoyment of it, his total dedication to the sport and all that it entails, so qualifying him without difficulty or hesitation for membership of this august brotherhood.

During his many years at the Club, Martin was an eager crew member in such races as Heads of the River, informal regattas up and down the Thames or inter-Club events. Being a member of the Stewards’ Enclosure he was a keen supporter of Club crews racing at Henley, extending his love for this annual event by inviting some of his grand children to accompany him.    

Possibly because of his enthusiasm Martin had cultivated a total disregard for weather conditions. However raw or nasty the outlook, he would nonchalantly be carrying oars or sculls to the water unless stopped by a team mate querying the skies for rain or worse. Then, usually, a ‘compromise’ would be struck meaning that the outing would proceed unhindered. So trips with snow on a boat’s canvasses or ice on her riggers were not uncommon and even the heaviest of rains would be dismissed disparagingly.

Of particular interest prior to embarking were Martin’s studies of how to keep his boots above the water line, to delicately position his rubber grip seat, avoid a heavy bump onto his slide and juggle with his pogies. But once done, leaning far back, he would inform his partner:  “I’m rrready.” 

Several members have had the fortune of seeing the Feuers at play when in a nice hotel the family and their friends celebrated such major events as Martin’s and Angela’s  70th or 75th birthdays and their 50th wedding anniversary.  At this occasion – only four years ago – the happy pair were persuaded to join some of their LRC friends to give a demonstration of the art of rowing; much to the amusement of all.

Martin ended the dictation of his life story by expressing his admiration of Edith Piaf, saying like her "…non, je ne regrette rien.”

Rob van Mesdag

Thursday
Dec052013

Bob Potter

Bob Potter, who died suddenly on 30 October 2013 in Bewdley, aged 78, rowed briefly for London Rowing Club in the early-mid 1960s, but despite also trying his luck at Molesey and the ARA’s Nautilus squad, remained a loyal member of LRC for over 50 years. He was a very keen sculler all his life and was to be seen out in his Carl Douglas single until just a few weeks ago, having hoovered up numerous veterans’ pennants and awards over the years.  Rowing, sculling and coaching were very much his life and counterbalanced a busy academic career which took him ultimately to a professorship of furniture design at the University of Central England in Birmingham.    This was all the more remarkable for the moderate to severe deafness he was born with, but he was so driven that the disability seemed a mild inconvenience to everything he did.

A bow side oar, Bob joined London in 1961 from Auriol and rowed at 3 in the Thames Cup in the following year, his crew just failing to reach the semi-final by a canvas in one of the best performances for the Club in the beginnings of its resurgence after World War II.  He then progressed to the Grand crew in 1963, before trying his hand with Molesey in 1964.  It was at this point that the ARA inaugurated the London arm of their national squad, Nautilus Club, to which Tideway and upriver clubs were invited to send candidates.  Bob was one of those selected, and joined a number of London men in the process. The Nautilus crews enjoyed top coaching from Jumbo Edwards, our Vice-President Doug Melvin, Geoffrey Page and others, and 1965 showed much promise with Bob gaining a bow side thwart in the Grand crew.   Already in his late 20s, though, it was time for Bob’s career in furniture design to take over and he moved away from the capital.

One of Bob’s eccentricities was to be a member of numerous rowing clubs at one time, and for his wedding near Hull (he married the girl next door from his childhood) he had an arch of blades from 9 separate clubs, including London. In more recent years he had come down from his home in Shropshire to attend the 6s & 7s Club dinners.

We send our condolences to Kay and his family.

Thursday
Feb072013

Simon Porter

Many members of LRC will have been saddened by the news of Simon Porter's death on 3 February 2013, following a stroke, at the age of only 68.  Our sincere condolences go to his widow Kay, and their family.

Simon had been a member of London Rowing Club since 1970, one of many to join on coming down from Oxford University at about that time.  He learnt to row at Bryanston School in Dorset, for whom he made his first competitive appearance at Henley in 1961.  From there he went to Keble College, Oxford for whom he also competed at Henley (with Chris Blackwall) in 1964.  In 1966 he was in the Isis crew (which included Dan Topolski, David Thomson and Fred Carr) which lost to Harvard by 3/4 length in the final of the Thames Cup, after the no. 5 man in Isis collapsed at the 3/4 Mile.  The following year Simon was rowing for Keble again, in the Ladies' Plate.

In recent years Simon was a regular member of the Masters crews organised by Robin Cameron-Cooper and, latterly, by Robin Hulf.  He rowed at the Head of the Charles in 2008 and 2010.  His last competitive race was in November 2012 when he sculled in the London crew which won the Masters G Quad Sculls at Teddington Small Boats Head.

Simon Porter (centre) enjoying some 'winter training'

Simon was a Solicitor, specialising in company law.  For many years he worked with Robert Rakison, first in a US law firm Morgan Lewis, and later with Grundberg Mocatta Rakison, until Simon retired in 2009 although he remained a consultant with its successor law firm McGuire Woods. He was passionate about sailing, keeping a Contessa 32 yacht called 'Equator' on the Solent, in which he regularly competed.  He was Clerk to the Governors at Latymer School, and Secretary to the Chiswick Christian 4 Community, a charity which supports young people in need, in the locality.

Last, but by no means least, Simon was the Club's Fire Safety Officer for the past 4-5 years.  A thankless task, Simon was responsible for making LRC compliant with all the changing fire regulations.

Simon's funeral will be for family only, but a memorial service will be held on 25 April (see Social News section for details).

 

 

Sunday
Dec232012

Denis Chaplin

Julian Ebsworth writes:

All organisations have their silent heroes who get on with their work tirelessly and selflessly out of the limelight and represent, if you like, the oil which keeps the gears of a machine operating smoothly.  This was never more true of the Club’s salaried part-time accountant  Denis Chaplin, who sadly died suddenly at his home on 13 December 2012 at the age of 75.

Denis was recruited by Rupert Hare (then Hon House Steward of the Club) in 2002, upon retiring from his career in accounts work, much of it with Houlder Offshore Engineering which grew out of the Furness Withy Group.  Maurice Rayner had had to step down some 18 months beforehand from the Club’s Hon Treasurer post through ill health, at a time when it was recognised that greater resources were needed in the Office to handle the Club’s day-to-day, at times quite complex, financial work.  Few members ever met Denis as he only came in during the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays but he quickly became a stalwart and friendly colleague of the Secretarial, coaching and catering teams who inhabited the Office, and also in particular of course an invaluable helpmate of successive Hon Treasurers over the last ten years - John Rew, Chris Rumboll, Hugh Richardson and, in the last few months, David Whitten.  If visitors, whether expected or (quite frequently !) unexpected, came in the daytime to the clubhouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as often as not it was Denis who welcomed them at the door.

Denis was a patient and courteous soul, but ran a tight ship when it came to the Club’s compliance with the myriad  tax and other regulations, and he was invaluable when the time came early in each calendar year for the Club to draw up its annual accounts at the end of what since 1870 has been its somewhat eccentric financial year (February to January).  We will remember his quiet efficiency, modesty, shyness (it was never possible to persuade him to attend a Club function, despite efforts to inveigle him to do so) and utter reliability.  He appreciated the opportunity to work at LRC because he loved to travel in his ‘retirement’, and it fitted in well with his voluntary work in the Teddington area where he lived for much of his life. He will be difficult to replace, and we shall miss him greatly.

Denis’s funeral is taking place at Hanworth Crematorium, Hounslow Road, Hanworth, at 12.40 p.m. on Friday 28th December.