Obituary – Geoffrey Brook

A tribute to Geoffrey Brook, a stalwart of the Coupe de la Jeunesse, who sadly passed away in early February

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Geoffrey Brook, Honorary President of the Coupe de la Jeunesse, passed away on 9 February.

Geoffrey was one of a small group of volunteers, who were instrumental in developing the Coupe – the annual international regatta for junior athletes – from a competition featuring a handful of European nations to the current membership of 16.

Great Britain sent its first team to the Coupe in 1986 – its second year – under the leadership of Geoffrey who was the Team Manager. The following year he joined the Coupe executive committee and remained a member for the next 24 years, longer than anyone else in the 35-year history of the event, serving as Secretary General from 1989 to 2001, and as President from 2001 to 2013.

In the early years of his membership of the executive committee, the Coupe was transformed into a team competition with a format of two separate days of racing offering maximum racing experience for the junior rowers.

During this time, the committee was faced with different challenges, including the regatta being hosted at less well-equipped venues, dealing with relatively inexperienced organising committees, late changes of venue and a shortage of bids to host the regatta. These were met with sympathy, active involvement and firm guidance, based on a wealth of experience of how best to run the regatta to the standard expected.

By the end of Geoffrey’s tenure as President, the Coupe was firmly established with 12 member federations and had a queue of venues bidding to host the regatta.

Geoffrey had a lifelong passion for rowing and not just for the Coupe

Throughout, Geoffrey’s focus was on the rowers, putting them first and providing them with the opportunity to excel, recognising that for some the Coupe is the first step to Olympic gold and, for others, it is the peak experience of their rowing careers.

Becoming Honorary President of the Coupe, Geoffrey continued his support of the Coupe and was always ready to step in and help the executive committee when asked.

Geoffrey had a lifelong passion for rowing and not just for the Coupe. As a young rower he coxed for Kingston Rowing Club at Henley Royal Regatta in 1964 and for Durham University in 1966. After university, he taught geography and was rowing master at several schools during his teaching career; Halliford School, St George’s College, Shrewsbury School and, finally, at Winchester College.

As well as acting as Team Manager for Great Britain Junior Teams, Geoffrey served as Chairman of the Junior Rowing Commission, making a long-term and significant contribution to the development of junior rowing in England. In 2013, Geoffrey was awarded the British Rowing Medal of Honour in recognition of his outstanding contribution to rowing, national and international.

A rowing ‘lifer’, Geoffrey will be much missed by those he coached and led, and by the Coupe family he worked with across Europe. His was a rowing life dedicated to helping others.

Geoffrey’s funeral will take place at 11:00, Monday 2 March at St John the Baptist, Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale SW15 3PY, followed by a private family cremation.

The reception will be held at Glenmore House, 6 Crescent Road, Surbiton KT6 4BN.

No black ties. Family flowers only. If you are planning to attend, please notify Geoffrey’s brother John by emailing [email protected].

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