2023 British Rowing Awards winners announced
The online awards ceremony saw 19 winners of British Rowing accolades revealed and more receive commendations
The British Rowing Awards celebrate the people, clubs and crews from across the rowing community who deserve recognition.
The awards were hosted by British Rowing umpire Zoe Hayes, who was joined by a star-studded lineup from across the rowing community who made the presentations – including British Rowing CEO Alastair Marks; the GB Rowing Team athletes Imogen Grant and Emily Craig, the 2023 World Rowing Women’s Crew of the Year, British Rowing Chairman Mark Davies; Olympian and Coach Richard Chambers, and many more.
Watch the ceremony here!
And the winners are…
Club Crew of the Year: Sarah Lewis and Issey Barnes (Greenbank Falmouth RC)
2023 was the very first time that Greenbank Falmouth had won an event at Henley Women’s Regatta when Sarah and Issey won the Rosie Mayglothling Trophy for Aspirational Double Sculls. They also qualified for the Stonor Challenge Trophy at Henley Royal Regatta.
This was a particularly incredible achievement as Issey was relatively new to the sport. Geographically, in Cornwall, they are a long way away from racing venues so travel to competitions is challenging and expensive and their Club did not own a suitable racing boat for them so they had to beg, steal and borrow slightly.
We hope to see more of them this coming season!
The panel also wished to commend the Tyne ARC Women’s First Eight.
University Crew of the Year: University of Nottingham Boat Club Women’s Eight
The panel recognised the significant improvement of the performance of this crew over the year from underdogs to qualifying and then winning a round at Henley Royal Regatta. With many of the crew only learning to sweep that year, they really had a tough challenge to get up to speed with the likes of some of the other Championship level university crews. However, with the help of new coaches Ade Roberts and Peter Boyes, they learnt quickly and began to form a solid unit.
The 2023 BUCS Regatta was the first time Nottingham had a competitive Women’s Championship Eight for a very long time with the crew ending up fifth after a tightly fought final.
They have certainly set a benchmark for future years.
The panel of this award also gave a commendation to the Women’s Eight from Nottingham Trent University for their achievements last season.
Junior or School Crew of the Year: Wycliffe College Boat Club/Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club WJ18 Quad
This crew had an incredible last season, supported by their coach Greg Flower. Their achievements included gold at the Junior Sculling Head, Gold at the Junior Sculling Regatta, winning the Bea Langridge Trophy for Junior Quadruple Sculls at Henley Women’s Regatta and being runners up in the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
Beryl Crockford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Junior Rowing: Pauline Higgins
Pauline Higgins has devoted a huge amount of time over the last 30 years to supporting and developing juniors both in her club – Queen Elizabeth High School RC in Hexham, Northumberland – and more widely in her region. She has enabled young rowers at all levels of ability to participate in the sport.
She has also played a valuable part on the Junior Rowing Committee and has ensured that all of its discussions have been well grounded, and that the views of her regions as well as all state school rowing clubs. Her support for junior rowing has been remarkable.
National Rowing Safety Award: Tony Reynolds
Tony has been the Regional Rowing Safety Adviser for the Thames Region for over a decade. This is a remarkable achievement and many rowers have been kept safe as a result of the advice that he has provided. He does this in a clear and confident manner and in such a way that everyone understands what he is saying. As the go-to person for safety advice in the region for many years, he is universally respected by the clubs.
It was he who worked with the Port of London Authority to produce The Tideway Code for rowing on the Tideway. Tony also leads on safety at many Tideway events and has umpired the University Boat Race. Although he has relocated upriver he continues to share his wisdom and experience both in the region and with the National Rowing Safety Committee.
Medals of Merit
Jane Perry (Paignton ARC)
Jane received a significant number of nominations – from several clubs in her region as well as her own – for this prestigious award, and it was clear from what was written in those nominations that she is held in very high regard.
During her lifelong involvement in the sport, in addition to being an enthusiastic competitor, Jane has turned her hand to much, much more to make the sport better for others. From coaching – whether absolute beginners or championship crews, to organising events, umpiring, representing her region and towing trailers, she has made a significant impact on the sport.
Away from her Club, where she has served as Chairman, Captain and President, Jane individual has been active within WEARA, the South Coast Championships and the West Region Rowing Council, or which she is currently Chair.
This year marks Jane’s 50th year as a member of Paignton ARC. She started as a junior when ladies rowing was poorly represented and single handedly kept the Cub going through the 1990s when membership was at an all time low. She has now come to the Club prosper with over 100 members and having success at regional and national level.
Mark Dewdney (Stratford upon Avon BC)
Mark also received multiple nominations from across his region for the work that he has done to raise the profile of adaptive rowing.
He coaches a substantial number of adaptive rowers at his own club and oversees a large group of volunteers, but his contribution to adaptive rowing has been much wider than that, with a major impact on a national level.
Mark has helped to develop the recent national strategy for adaptive rowing and has enabled coaches of adaptive rowers across the country to share ideas and good practice on adaptive rowing.
As Chair of the British Rowing Club Adaptive Group, which he helped to establish, he is in constant conversation with rowing and disability focussed organisations, and gives up significant amounts of his time to assist other rowing clubs and competitions across the country in planning adaptive categories, providing guidance to safety considerations and logistical planning.
At international level, Mark has organised for Clubs in the UK to attend Para competitions in Italy and has met with international Para coaches to share ideas.
Bonner Davies (Royal Chester RC)
Bonner’s love of rowing dates back to 1956 when, as a school boy, he joined the club that he remains part of today. He was honoured to be chosen to stroke the first eight in 1962 and became a full member of ‘Royals’ in 1964. By 1969, he was elected as Captain for the first time, and returned to the role in 1996 when he was instrumental in helping Royal Chester emerge from a difficult period. At the end of his captaincy, he became Chair of the committee, a position he held for 15 years.
Outside of the, Bonner passed the Umpires examination in 1989 and has since umpired at virtually all of the events in the North West region. He began to represent Royals at the North West Regional Rowing Council in 1990 and became the Chair of the Council in 2000, serving as a representative on the National Council between 2000 and 2016.
In addition, he represented the North West on the National Masters Commission from 1993 to 2018 and was an active masters rower himself at the same time winning at regional regattas, National Championships and in a quad at Henley Masters Regatta as recently as last year.
Bonner Davies remains very involved in Royal Chester RC as a Trustee, a Committee member and Club President. He can regularly be seen rowing on the River Dee, proving that age (in his case 82) is just a number.
Peter King (Kingston RC)
Peter has been an active volunteer member of Kingston RC since he joined from his school over 65 years ago. He has just stepped down from being President of his Club having held the position since 2009. Prior to that, he served as Club Chairman and in the 1960s, as Club Captain.
He stopped rowing himself back in the 1960s but since then has dedicated his life to help the next generations participate in the sport. His contribution has included the Kingston Small Boats Head and Kingston Head of the River races – both of which he has run since the early nineties and is still doing so today.
He has previously served as an umpire and helped set up the Kingston Regatta on the current site in 1991.
Now in his 90th year, Peter King is continuing to give the sport of rowing.
2023 Volunteer of the Year: Anne Gunn (Lower Thames RC)
Anne is co-chairperson of Lower Thames RC and contributes to all activities at the club, taking a keen interest in ensuring that all members feel valued and are able to participate in all the club has to offer. In 2023 Anne also qualified as a British Rowing Level 2 Coach in order to design and organise the club’s Learn to Row programme.
She has been instrumental in forging a strong link with the local mental health charity Trustlinks and organised four separate rows with the charity and volunteers at the club. These saw over 30 people with mental health issues get out on the water rowing, enjoying the physical and mental health benefits that rowing on the Thames Estuary can give.
The Panel also wanted to commend Jennie Brotherston for her extensive work behind the scenes at Lea RC.
2023 Rising Star Volunteer of the Year: Nadine Smith (University of Portsmouth RC)
The panel was impressed with all of the young people who had been nominated for this award but after a long deliberation, they chose Nadine as the winner for the considerable leadership she has demonstrated at a young age.
Over the last year Nadine has been club captain of the University of Portsmouth Rowing Club, taking over at a very difficult time for the club without a stretch of water to use or much club organisation. She organised the club committee and formed a partnership with Itchen Imperial RC. Recently she has taken over as club president and has continued going above and beyond to organise events and the committee. With her support and time the club has come a long way.
2023 Rowing Project of the Year: East Anglia Youth Rowing
East Anglia Youth Rowing was set up back in 2021 with the aim of providing opportunities for state school students in deprived areas to try the sport of rowing. Since then the project has grown and during the 2022/23 academic year, the project worked with pupils from 16 schools.
Last year, the project continued to grow and in addition to ergo competitions, there was swim training, summer camps and even a beach sprint day. Comments from students on the camps included: “I was scared of the water to start but now I love it” and “I like coming to the boathouse as it feels like home”.
In July of last year, students from schools involved in the project got the opportunity to row down the Henley Royal Regatta course during the lunch interval on finals day.
Coach of the Year Awards
2023 Community Coach of the Year: Hannah Vines (Dorney BC)
The Coaching awards have been re-shaped slightly this year and for the first time we are going to award a Community Coach of the Year Award which is for coaches who have made the most significant impact on their local community by providing opportunities to become involved in the sport of rowing.
Hannah empowers people of all ages from the local community to try rowing, something which they would not normally do. From running learn-to-row programmes to developing people to assist with events, she looks at all ways to engage people with the sport. She hosts regular local schools and also reaches out to other schools who may not realise there is an opportunity for them. Hannah has initiated a ‘pay it forward’ scheme, which allows members of the club to round their subs up, with the extra change going to fund an athlete who may want to row but can’t afford it as well as a kit scheme, which enables athletes of the club to get the kit by earning it by logging their indoor metres. Prizes range from water bottles to all-in-ones.
She is a mentor on British Rowing’s Diploma in Sporting Excellence programme and helps others in their coaching journeys as well as attending her own personal development. Being an active part of the coaching network can perhaps mean that you never switch off but Hannah has built up a team who she trusts and empowers so she can step away for a break and things can continue.
The Panel also commended Louise Nickerson of Lea RC.
2023 Coaching Team of the Year: The Junior Coaching Team, Tyne ARC
Between them, the Junior Coaching Team at Tyne ARC coach 35 junior rowers. The 2023 season has been their best season to date with local and national wins including gold, silver and two bronze medals at the British Championships. They create a safe and welcoming environment, working collectively and individually with passion and compassion to meet the needs of junior rowers with mixed abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. They reach out to the local community via learn-to-row courses, taster erg nights and social events for family and friends.
As a coaching team, they complement each other and invest so much time. One member of the team is a true ‘home grown talent’ having been a former junior rower at the club herself. Congratulations to the team of Beth Laidlaw, Jess Rickleton, John Mulholland and Thomas Jackson.
The panel also commended the Junior Coaching Team at Tees RC.
2023 Talent Development Coach of the Year: Rhona MacCallum (Tideway Scullers School)
Rhona is the Junior Women’s coach at Tideway Scullers School. She is an inspiring, thoughtful, enthusiastic, and collaborative coach who works incredibly hard with the young women in her squad. She has a great track record for enabling her athletes to achieve at the highest level, whilst also supporting those who choose rowing for fun and fitness. Her very high recruitment and retention numbers show that athletes value her approach.
She demonstrates exemplary ethical coaching supporting her athletes by discussing their rowing or pastoral care, recognising the important role sport plays in teenage physical/mental health.
In 2023 her crew won the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
The panel also wished to give a commendation to Bodo Schulenburg of Hinksey Sculling School and Hugh Scott of Bradford ARC.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ian Stonehouse (St Leonard’s School BC)
Ian has been a vitally important member of this club since 1983 when he became a teacher at St Leonard’s School. His contribution has been entirely voluntary. Initially Ian worked ‘behind the scenes’ using his technical skills to maintain the equipment and support the coaching of Bill Parker and Malcolm Proud. This partnership was highly successful winning regional, national and international honours. For Ian, more importantly, pupils from St Leonard’s continued their involvement in rowing after leaving the club.
Following Bill Parker’s retirement in 2009 Ian became the Lead Teacher for the Club. Ian persuaded a number of volunteers to form a new coaching team including Malcolm Proud. He took responsibility for the younger rowers drawing on his own experience of training and racing as a junior and college rower. This led to a growth in the number of rowers and success on the water.
Ian organised a number of major fundraising campaigns to buy new equipment but also to make sure that no pupil was excluded from rowing because of their family circumstances. Pupils who benefited from Ian’s commitment to open access to the sport went on to receive university rowing scholarships and won a World Championship, international and national honours. They also formed friendships which have continued long after they left St Leonard’s.
Despite retiring from teaching six years ago Ian has continued to be an active volunteer in the Club generously sharing his time and expertise- simply because he enjoys seeing young people develop their skills and confidence through rowing.
Medals of Honour
Pauline Rayner MBE
Pauline started rowing in the 1950s at the age of 13. Since then, she has done so much for the sport, particularly in the development of women’s rowing. She first raced the Women’s Head in 1954 and in 1960 was selected to represent Great Britain in the double at the European Women’s Rowing Championships (the highest level of international competition for women at the time). She and her partner Pam Body were therefore the first British women’s 2x to race at an official FISA/World Rowing Championships. Both happened to be mothers. Appropriately, she donated the Rayner Cup for Junior Doubles to Henley Women’s Regatta in 1999.
After that she continued to race successfully at home and at World Rowing Masters Regattas. She raced at the European Masters Regatta in Munich in 2018. However, while her lifetime of achievement on the water merits an award in itself, she has done so much more – particularly for Thames RC and for women’s masters rowing, and for other women rowers too. As a PE teacher she introduced Putney High School to rowing, initially as a junior section at Thames RC. Without her support so very many people would not have had opportunities to improve, have fun, and win.
Sadly, Pauline died just a few days before she would have been told of her award.
Rowing has been a part of George’s life since the 1970s when he started rowing at Eton College. His passion for the sport delivered significant achievements, and he represented Eton winning two medals at the National Schools’ Regatta. He represented Great Britain at the Junior World Championships in the eight in 1974 and in the quadruple scull in 1975.
George’s passion for the sport did not end after school; he rapidly got involved in volunteering and subsequently became a British Rowing umpire and was elected Chairman of the National Schools’ Regatta in 2006, although he had been on the committee since 1985 and did so much to develop the event in that time. He eventually retired from the role after the 2023 regatta.
Whilst he has become synonymous for the National Schools’ Regatta, his contribution to rowing does not end there. He is a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta and, as a member of the Committee of Management, he oversaw the entry process for 14 years. He is also Chairman of Bedford Regatta.
2023 Affiliated Club of the Year: Derby RC
Derby RC was founded in a pub in 1880 by a few friends who wanted to start rowing. They worked for the train network and initially they rented some land by the river from the rail company and made a small boathouse.
The Club prides itself on being open to all. Whether you have aspirations of racing at Henley Royal Regatta or just want to paddle up and down the river, or even just want to have a drink at the bar on a Thursday evening, Derby RC can accommodate you.
Following a hugely successful season in 2022 that saw them commended in the Club of the Year category at the British Rowing awards, they have gone on to achieve even more success in the past 12 months.
This has included a top 50 result at the Head of the River Race, representation at GB trials, top 10 at the Pairs Head, winning the Davison trophy at the Fours Head for standout performance by a small club, qualification into Henley Women’s and Henley Royal Regattas and a win at Henley Masters Regatta.
Meanwhile, off their water, their junior squad teamed up with Cash for Kids to raise money to get more disadvantaged juniors into the sport, and came out as the top fundraiser in the Midlands. They also celebrated 50 years of women’s rowing at the club with a row past at Henley Royal Regatta containing inspirational female members from past and present.
Derby RC is a club that is evidently proud to punch well above its weight, pushing boundaries both on and off the water.
The panel also commended York St John University BC for everything they’ve achieved in rebuilding in recent years.