Club News

John Pearce

John Francis Pearce
JohnPearce1941 - 2017

It is with sadness that I have to report the death in the early part of this year, of John Pearce, a Vice President and great stalwart of Kingston Rowing Club. He was educated at Kingston Grammar School and rowed in their 1st Eight whilst there taking a few years off when he left school, to study marine engineering at Tough Bros in Teddington. Upon completion of an apprenticeship with this company he returned to row at KRC. By this time, his father had firmly established Thames Ditton Marina and work commitments meant that John had less time to devote to his rowing. After a few years concentrating on work with the Marina, John joined his younger brother Peter who had since joined KRC, to row with him in a pair entering the Goblets at Henley Royal Regatta. The following year, both brothers teamed up with Peter and Geoff Risk to enter the Wyfolds at Henley Royal Regatta making the first time a pair of brothers had entered as a crew! After giving up rowing, he spent time as a coach with our highly successful Britannia Four, deputising for Ron Needs their coach, on the occasions when he was unable to get down to the Club.

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Alistair Court-Smith

Alistair Court-Smith 1942 - 2016

After a prolonged battle with illness, it is with sadness we report on the death of one of our longstanding members, Alistair Court-Smith. His association with the Club goes back over 60 years when he was rowing at Kingston Grammar School and as such, was a Cadet member of KRC.

On leaving school he studied civil engineering and worked on the M1 which was under construction in those days. From building highways in the UK, his career took him to the Bahamas working for Sir Robert McAlpine where after five years, his work took him to Algeria, Belgium, back to the Bahamas returning in the late eighties to Belgium once again.

In 1990, he returned once more to the UK and renewed his contact with KRC rowing in the veteran crew on a Sunday morning. Marrying June in 1992, his career had changed from being an active engineer to Project Management, becoming a director of Widnell and running their project management division.

It was his skill in project management that was to be so useful to KRC when he was involved with others in negotiating the new lease for the Club. His help was to be invaluable in negotiating the terms of the new lease and with the planning of the alterations that we have started to make at the boathouse.

Following retirement, Alistair became a non-executive director for the Primary Care Trust NHS and also a non-executive director of Rosemary Simmons Memorial Housing Association based in Esher.

He leaves behind his wife June, daughters Melanie and Tia, and sons James and Gregory.

Richard J. Ayling

13th June 1952-1st November 2016 – A Colossus of World Rowing

Richard Ayling

If I had three words to describe Richard Ayling who has just died at the age of 64 they would be: passion, commitment and fun. He was a giant of a man, who loved, just loved, the sport – every bit of it. He always wore his heart on his sleeve. And his laughter – Richard could take a joke as well as dish them out – was always raucous. His life touched so many who helped make our sport great. But it would be typical of ‘Lurch’ – his ‘70s nickname given to him by his crewmates in Bob Janousek’s British squad – to give credit to others. Make no mistake though; British rowing owes a debt to Richard Ayling.



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KRC Coxes Win 4 Gold Medals for England at Home International Regatta

Two KRC coxes were selected for the England squad for the Home International Regatta 2016, held in Cardiff Bay on Saturday 23rd July. 

Adele Hing (KRC Senior Men's Cox) was selected to cox for England (Senior Men's 4+ and 8+). Scott Cockle (KRC Junior Cox) was selected to cox for England (Junior Men's 4+ and 8+, along with other GB Junior Triallists from Claires Court School, St. Pauls School, Hampton School, Bedford School and Canford School). 

Conditions at Cardiff Bay were tricky, with a strong cross wind and rough water and narrow lanes to contend with.  The Senior Men's 4+were up first and led from the start and sat ahead of the field for the entire race. They dealt with the rough water well and had a very strong 500m, fighting off the Irish crew in the last 300m to win by 3/4 length.

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Boat Naming Ceremony - 10 April 2016

KRC held  a boat naming event at Canbury Boathouse on Sunday 10 April, to name three new boats. We had a number of distinguished guests – the deputy mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Geoff Austin; the deputy mayoress, Sheila Austin; Annamarie Phelps, chairman of British Rowing; Councillors Hugh Scantlebury, David Cunningham and Maria Netley; John Parrish, chairman of Canbury and Riverside Association – and Jacquie and Rod Payne, parents of Giselle.

 Our president, Peter King, was frustrated on his long journey from Essex by an M25 closure and our chairman, Mike Bate, stepped in to conduct the affairs of the day. The deputy mayor congratulated the club on the great contribution that KRC makes to the Royal Borough and Annamarie Phelps spoke inspirationally on the unique nature of rowing and how it forms peoples lives – better than any other sport! Next we had the Jack Petchey awards – the deputy mayor presented a leadership award to Chris 'Foxy' Fox and Annamarie presented a range of Petchey awards to ten members of our junior squad

 We named three Boats:

The new eight was named Giselle after Giselle Cowie (née Payne) who died at the tragically young age of 43 in September last year from cancer.  Ian South, who coached Giselle in the 1980s, brought her memory to life and then Rod and Jacquie spoke emotionally of the their daughter.  The naming was by Giselle’s husband, Jamie, and Giselle’s children, Will, Ollie and Jess.   Also present with their families were Giselle’s sisters, Georgina and Gabrielle, both former KRC rowers.  

 A new four was named Foxy, after Chris Fox, a much loved member of the junior coaching team.  Chris launched the successful grant application to Sport England which allowed the purchase of the boat.  Chris Griffiths spoke fondly of Foxy who then poured the champagne and named the boat.

 Last but not least, the new pair was named after ‘club treasure’ David Ford, universally known as Dinsdale – so that is the name of the boat!  Mike Bate emphasised the unrelenting work that Dinsdale does behind the scenes to keep Canbury Boathouse going.  David then poured the champagne and named the boat. A crew made up of all squads at the club took 'Giselle' out for a row after the naming (pictured  below), whilst senior men James Marsden and Hal Bedford-Payne took the pair for a row.

 Thank you to Dermod Sweeney for organising the event and to all who attended - it was a great occasion!

boat naming KRC

Alan Spong

Alan Spong

Our past president Alan Spong has passed away, aged 94.

The timing is particularly aposite as the club is planning its 'Row to Remember' Sponsored Row and Alan was one of the last surviving Dunkirk veterans.

 A dozen or so Scarlet Blazers attended his funeral to complement the Dogget Coat and Badge uniforms worn by three recent winners  (Alan was a member of the Worshipful Company of Watermen and Lightermen of The Thames and was elected their Master in 1980)

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James Townley


Members will be saddened to  hear of the death on Friday 21 September of an ex-KRC member, Captain James Townley, who was killed in an incident whilst serving in Afghanistan at the age of only 29.

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Andy Holmes MBE

It is very sad to report the death of Andy Holmes MBE on 24 October 2010  aged 51.

Andy Holmes SeoulAndy rowed at Kingston in the early 80’s before going  on to win two Olympic Gold medals: Coxed Fours at Los Angeles in 1984 with Richard Budgett, Martin Cross and Steve Redgrave with cox Adrian Ellison;  and then in Coxless Pairs at Seoul in 1988 with Steve Redgrave (where they also doubled up to win a Bronze in Coxed Pairs).

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