Andrew Paterson, who passed away on 18 April 2015, loved the river and rowing, loved Putney and contributed hugely to the life of the Club especially in the early 1970s, when he organised a vast army of Irregulars. In his later years he was a familiar sight on the Embankment, a very regular visitor to the clubhouse, and became involved in the world of watermen.
Andrew followed his brother Bruce to Winchester, and started in junior house sculling at a time when the college still raced in the PE Cup on fixed pins. He was a keen musician, playing the clarinet and piano, and forming a dance band which specialised in jazz and swing. After National Service with the RASC in Austria, he read modern languages at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and rowed at Henley in its Wyfold crews in 1954 and 1955.
In 1972, it became customary to present the “Irregular” squadmaster with a trophy on Final Night in recognition of his season’s services. That year, LRC captain Peter Harrison, left, presented Andrew Paterson with an engraved glass ship’s decanter.
He started a career in marketing and advertising, moved to Putney, bought his house in Festing Road and joined the Club in 1962. By then John Pepys had set up his “Pepys’ Promotions” involving Wednesday evening outings for those who were unable to take part in full-time training but who wished to continue enjoying the sport, including entering head of the river races. John handed over responsibility for organisation to Brian Wilson and then to Andrew in 1971, by which time the Promotions had become “The Irregulars”. Sunday outings were added.
Andrew’s article in the 1981 commemorative booklet for the Club’s 125th Anniversary makes plain how large an activity this became: 1971, an average of 2-3 eights went out and a ‘Final Night circular’ sent to 88; 1972, 3 eights and a four, and circular to 177 (this included non-LRC guests); 1973, 96 participants ; and 1974, 6 eights afloat. Ages ranged from 17 to 70. Regular Wednesday night dinners with candles, silver and port started at this time as well. In 1974, Andrew handed over to Andy Slaughter, and in the following year to Iain Laurenson, who with John Pearson and Rob van Mesdag happily all remain integral members of the Irregulars to this day.
Andrew then moved with his friend R O Plowright up to Molesey for a period, rowing in a veterans’ crew and at the same time reviving the fortunes of Molesey Regatta. He later returned to Putney and re-joined the Irregulars in a rowing, and later social, capacity. In 1978 he became a Governor, later Clerk, of the Thomas Martyn Foundation, an educational charity for watermen which holds its annual service at All Saints, Putney Common, with a reception afterwards at the clubhouse. He held office for 23 years. He also became a ‘Craft-Owning’ Freeman of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen in the City in 1989, regularly attending Court and Freemen’s lunches and encouraging other LRC members to apply for membership over the years as well.
Andrew remained generous with his time throughout, his wider coaching and other assistance being recognised in honorary memberships of Lady Elizabeth Boat Club (Trinity College, Dublin) and of King’s College Boat Club (University of London). Engagingly, the IT revolution passed Andrew entirely by; communications and papers for him were to be handwritten or typed from his desk in Festing Road; what was important was to keep up the friendships he had made.
We send our belated condolences to his brother Bruce and family.