British Rowing Awards: Beryl Crockford Medal winners

This year there are two worthy winners for the Beryl Crockford Award – Bill Parker from Durham ARC/St. Leonard’s School and Bryan Steel from Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association

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Congratulations to Bill Parker and Bryan Steel who share the 2020 Beryl Crockford Award for their outstanding contribution to junior rowing over many years.

The award was set up by Duncan Crockford in memory of his late wife Beryl, who passed away in 2016 following a tragic bike accident in Australia. Beryl represented GB at three Olympic Games and was a trailblazer for women’s rowing.

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Awarded annually, the winners are decided by members of the British Rowing Junior Committee. Read on to find out how this year’s winners have contributed to junior rowing over their careers.

Bryan Steel, Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association

Bryan and his long serving commitment to supporting junior rowing and Aberdeen Schools Rowing Club.

He started in 1961 at Hillhead High School in Glasgow and was asked to help out with the school’s rowing club. Eight years later he moved on to Aberdeen for a promotion at Aberdeen Academy where he continued his involvement with rowing.

He met up with Robert Newton, then of Aberdeen Grammar School, and in 1973 they decided to pool their resources and athletes to form Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association in order to try and beat the strong central belt opposition.

Bryan retired from full time teaching in 1997 giving him more time to coach the ever-expanding Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association (ASRA). It had grown from the two original schools to include any pupil from any school in Aberdeen City or Aberdeenshire.

He inspired former ASRA members to turn into coaches and help him manage the expanding club as it started to achieve greater and greater success.

A common theme that helped Bryan recruit pupils to try rowing was to do a deal with some of the more troublesome pupils and withhold disciplining them if they went to the river and gave rowing a try. This seemed to prove a very successful recruitment option.

Then in 2001, ASRA had their own boathouse which was opened by Sir Steve Redgrave. This helped to grow numbers again and resulted in more success further afield in England and at the International Regatta in Gent, Belgium. ASRA has continued to develop with the addition of an extension to the boathouse and the purchase of equipment to meet its ever-demanding needs for racing at the top end of British Rowing regattas.

All this from the humble beginnings of a Rowing Master bitten by the rowing bug in Glasgow and taking it beyond what even he could have imagined.

Bill Parker, St Leonard’s School BC/Durham ARC

To introduce rowing to one school with no previous involvement in the activity shows a high degree of dedication to the sport. To do so in a second school and inspire pupils to succeed at regional, national and international levels indicates a deep commitment to rowing and to the development of young people.

After starting his career coaching rowing at Consett Grammar School, Bill moved to St Leonard’s School – one mile from the River Wear – and it was almost inevitable that the School would, in a short period, find that it had a boat club of its own in 1971.

The School had no previous involvement in rowing; it had no boat house, oars or boats. But Bill possesses a great ability to persuade people and involve them in supporting young people. No obstacle was allowed to stop young people from rowing.

Dedication to fundraising was exceeded by the commitment to training on and off the water. Success followed. The British Rowing Almanacs give the facts.

There were national medals in the late 1970s and the first international success in 1982. In the 1980s Bill was joined by Malcolm Proud and they made a formidable and winning partnership. The Club regularly achieved 100 wins each season. These included wins at Women’s Henley, topping the medals table at the 2004 National Schools Regatta, a Junior World Championship and representation in the England and GB squads.

Bill also took on significant regional roles and continued his involvement with Durham ARC. Indeed, when he officially retired from St Leonard’s Boat Club, he coached juniors at Durham ARC to further national success.

Throughout his coaching Bill has been supported by his wife May and his family. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude and our heartfelt thanks.

Bill has shared his passion for rowing with generations of juniors for over 50 years. He has inspired juniors to remarkable success and sustained involvement in rowing as adults drawing on the ethos of excellence and commitment that Bill established as a coach.

 

Thanks to the Junior Rowing Committee for their time selecting the award winners this year.

We are celebrating the winners of the British Rowing Awards 2020 all the way up until 31 December so please keep and eye out for other winners #BRAwards2020

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