Obituary – The Reverend Michael Lapage
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of the Reverend Michael Lapage, 1948 Olympic medallist, on 20 July
A member of the GB eight that won Olympic silver at the 1948 Olympics in Henley, Michael Lapage also went on to win bronze at the 1950 Empire Games in New Zealand.
He learned to row at Monkton Combe School and was in the school eight from 1940-42. His ambition to make the Cambridge Blue boat was put on hold while he served his country in the Second World War as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm.
In 1946 Lapage started reading Geography at Selwyn College, Cambridge and went on to row at seven in the 1948 Boat Race. Cambridge won the race by five lengths, becoming the first Boat Race crew to finish in under 18 minutes – a record that held until 1974.
The Cambridge crew went on to form the main part of the 1948 Olympic rowing team, with Lapage’s eight winning a place in the Olympic final against the United States and Norway. They were in the lead at 500m, but the greater staying power of the United States showed and they went on to prevail by two lengths.
Lapage also turned his hand to coaching, taking Winchester College to success in 1949, both at the Schools’ Head and in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley.
A year later he won a bronze at the Empire Games, and retired from rowing. He dedicated himself to missionary and parish work, all the while preserving his enduring love of the outdoors, poetry, books and music.
He became a missionary in Kenya, where he met his wife, Margaret, and had two daughters and a son.
Returning to be chaplain at Bedford School, he also spent time coaching rowing, before working as a chaplain in Lyon and Grenoble for three years and then moving to the Hereford diocese. He retired 29 years ago and lived in Tavistock.
The funeral will take place on 9 August at midday in St Andrew’s Church, Whitchurch, near Tavistock.