Members will have been saddened to learn of the death at the age of 79 of Rodney Bewes, for many years a member of London Rowing Club, on 21 November 2017. Rodney was an actor who came to fame in the 1960s as the character Bob Ferris in "The Likely Lads", one of the most popular BBC sitcoms of that era. His main connection with the river was through his one-man touring production of "Three Men in a Boat", which won the Stella Artois prize at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997. He was a freeman of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.
For many years Rodney was a very familiar figure at Henley Royal Regatta, invariably moored up close to the Progress Board, opposite Stewards' Enclosure, as shown in Mark Ruscoe's really excellent photograph above.
Mile Preston recalls a recent encounter:
While I was doing an eight day skiff trip from Bourne End to Abingdon and back in July, we woke up one morning at Sonning lock to find that Rodney Bewes had tethered his motor launch next to us over night. Shortly after, the whole flotilla of Swan Uppers came up through the lock. As they emerged from the lock, Rodney greeted each boat and they greeted him in return.
I had a discussion with Rodney while we were standing on the bank watching, although I hadn't met him before. He was clearly a proud member of LRC. He also explained that he had taken part in the Swan Upping week for many years - as I understood it he rowed in one of the skiffs on many occasions - and he was now following the event in his own cabin cruiser and, I imagined from what he said, taking part in the endless receptions and lunches that the uppers attend as they make their way up the river.
Over the course of the next few days, we came across the uppers several more times and saw Rodney on two or three occasions. He immediately recognised us and waved to us. By chance we ended up going through Goring lock with the uppers and enjoyed the endless chatter and banter. All in all, he was very friendly and easy to talk to and I am pleased that I had a chance to meet him albeit only, as it transpired, shortly before he died.