Ian Butler


Ian Butler, who died on 4 November 2016 aged 81, was a stalwart member of the Irregulars, representing their interests on the Committee for 10 years. For many years he was in charge of the Club's clothing supply, and also ran the Casamajor Club draw. Ian Laurenson writes:

Ian was a man of many interests, with an interest in sport being one of the most important. After working abroad for some years, he and Jenny finally set up home in Kingston and Ian started looking around for possibilities of actively participating in a sport. At school he had played cricket and at Oxford he had taken up rowing, even being selected to join the Blue Boat squad for a few weeks. After searching around he finally decided that the London Rowing Club Irregulars, with a philosophy that whoever turned up on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, would be boated, fitted in with his business and family commitments.

Ian joined the Club in April 1973 and over the next 40 years was an enthusiastic participant in the Irregulars. His linguistic skills being very useful in our trips abroad to the Rhineland Rowing Club in the Hague, Paris for the Traversee de Paris, Venice for the Vogalonga and on the memorable trip to Madrid at the invitation of the Ambassador Sir Stephen and his wife Abby.

As convenor of the Irregulars for many years I had the job of making up crews. I soon grew to realise that Ian was a man of fixed ideas. Others would move position in the boat, row on either side or go sculling, not Ian. Always sweep oar, always stroke side, first at stroke then at six and then at four. Towards the end of his rowing career he invariable went in a four, alternating stroke and two with Graham Anderson the other man of fixed principles. Robbie would take on the task of steering the boat.   

As time moved on, the length of our outings needed to be adjusted, first above Chiswick Bridge, then just below Chiswick, then the White Hart at Barnes and finally the Bandstand. Ian expressing the firm opinion that the boat should turn at the Bandstand, Robbie renamed this turning point Butler's Reach, Only two rowing landmarks are named after oarsmen. The Mile Post is named after Steve Fairbairn. The Bandstand is now named after Ian Butler.

The fondly remembered Club servant, Lilian Eagle named the Irregulars the Jolly Boaters. Ian was, I suspect, the one who earned us this title. We enjoyed getting on the river but had even more enjoyment in slackening the thirst that our efforts provided. Ian with his close buddy John Auber was always at the centre of the jollity. The Butler household must have got used to a late Sunday lunch.

After Ian retired he became actively involved in the welfare of the Rowing Club. He was elected a member of the Committee, looked after the interests of the Irregulars, took charge of the purchase and sale of rowing kit and of course, the Casamajor Club draw, a very useful little earner for the Club.