Winners honoured from across the country at 2021 British Rowing Awards

International coach Robin Williams takes home the prestigious Medal of Honour as all our winners are announced

The 2021 British Rowing Awards took place virtually last night with Chair Mark Davies steering proceedings, joined by an array of special guests, including double Olympic champion Helen Glover, world champion Mat Tarrant and Deputy Chair Kate O’Sullivan, together with other familiar faces from the rowing community.

It was an evening that saluted the many people shortlisted who devote so much time to our sport, enabling others to enjoy and fulfil their ambitions on or off the water.

Welcoming everyone, Mark said: “We’re here to celebrate the great performances, fantastic clubs and ultimately some of the people who made our sport so special.

“Thank you so much to everyone who nominated somebody for our awards that were open to nominations from across the rowing community and we had a huge number of people stepping forward to tell us about their clubs, volunteers and crews.

“Our panels, made up of volunteers from around the rowing community, and chaired by members of the Board, had the unenviable task of narrowing those entries down to tonight’s shortlist, so each of our nominees has already demonstrated an incredible fortitude just to reach this stage.

“I’ve been lucky to see, first-hand, just how much impact some of those nominated tonight have had on our sport. I offer all of you the warmest congratulations.”

First up was Club Crew of the Year with the Cantabrigian RC Women’s Club eight receiving the award, announced by Nick Hubble, Chair of the Sport Committee.

Cantabrigian were able to put together their fastest ever women’s eight and had a fantastic season performing consistently throughout.

Presented by former world champion Mat Tarrant, the winners of the University Crew of the Year were the University of Surrey Beginners Men – the first of three awards for the student boat club in a highly successful evening.

Hereford Cathedral School BC J16 quad took the Junior or School Crew of the Year, announced by Kate O’Sullivan.

Mark said: “These four boys have put Hereford Cathedral on the rowing map and inspired younger pupils to take up rowing, doubling the size of the boat club.

“Also commended in this award is the Shiplake College junior women’s quad who came together as a crew to deliver an unbeaten season including wins at Henley and the Junior Champs.”

Moving to the Volunteer Awards, the overall winner was Mindy Hothi, Captain of Birmingham RC, presented by Lucy Hart, the Captain of Christchurch RC.

Lucy said: “Volunteers are the backbone of the rowing club, and like icebergs, what members see of their contribution is just the tip of their actual dedication and commitment to the sport.”

During lockdown, Mindy kept club members motivated and engaged, and then when rowing reopened, he supported the club’s learn to row courses while ensuring that the club had one of its most successful seasons ever.

British Rowing Board Member Laura Lion announced Eleanor Stevens of the University of Surrey Boat Club as the winner of the Rising Star of the Year.

Mark said: “Eleanor’s achievements speak for themselves, and our Panel were all in awe of these – one going as far to say they were ‘superhuman’ and ‘they should name a boat after her’.”

The COVID Hero Award, recognising some of the fantastic contributions to support our sport and the wider community throughout the COVID pandemic, went to Aline Heyerick from Birmingham RC and was presented by Nick Hubble. Aline was nominated for all her work in motivating her fellow club members throughout COVID lockdowns.

Nick said: “We’ve seen clubs and individuals pulling together in ways we’ve never seen before.

“This award is really just the tip of the iceberg. There’s been so many incredible contributions – our shortlist of COVID heroes could be massive.”

Mark added: “Also commended were Chris Elder and Hayley Shipton of Peterborough Rowing Club. They worked hard behind the scenes to make sure their club was able to safely re-open at the end of lockdown and they put in place processes to help manage the regularly changing government guidance.”

Introduced by Honorary Rowing Safety Advisor Stephen Worley, the National Rowing Safety Award was given to Julie Hogg from City of Cambridge RC. Julie has not only helped improve safety in her club, but also all the rowing clubs in her local area.

Stephen said: “Our winner and her club identified a concern that coxes in their local area would be less experienced than normal, particularly with a large number of university clubs in their area. They and their club took it upon themselves to organise coxing certificate courses to help support the coxes getting back on the water at the Cambridge Colleges.”

Across rowing there are some fantastic projects that are doing great work to open our sport up to more people. Five projects were shortlisted with Wallingford RC’s Katie Kapernaros announcing Fairlop RC as the winner.

Fairlop is providing a welcoming a safe environment for Muslim and other women from diverse ethnic communities. Fulham Reach BC were commended for their Junior Community Course – a free summer holiday course which also provided meals for young people of all backgrounds, who wouldn’t normally get the chance to try rowing.

The Coach of the Year Award shortlist consisted of the category winners with Matt Pooley, Captain at Lea RC, announcing the overall winner – Samuel Tuck from University of Surrey BC. Already named as Coach of the Year for Education Performance, Samuel impressed the Panel with what he’d achieved in such a short space of time, all within a supportive and inclusive environment. Congratulations to all our Coach of the Year category winners too.

Commemorating the three-time GB Olympian Beryl Crockford, this award recognises outstanding contributions to junior rowing in Great Britain. Mike Martin, Chair of the Junior Rowing Committee, announced two winners – Val Edwards from The King’s School Chester and David ‘CD’ Riches of Westminster School BC. Both are passionate about supporting junior rowing and helping more young people get on the water.

Summing up Val’s contributions, Mike said: “Described as a beacon of positivity with a “can-do” attitude, Val is instrumental in creating successful junior inter-regional regatta teams for the North West Region and has set numerous athletes on their way to GB junior vests.

“CD has been at the forefront of junior rowing at one of the top rowing schools in the country for many years, delivering successful crews year after year.

“He has also been the driving force behind the Schools’ Head Race for over 30 years, helping grow the event into what it is today and using it to help raise funds to further support junior rowing.”

A true ambassador for GB junior rowing, CD has acted as volunteer manager for the J16 GB-France Match.

One of the most prestigious honours that British Rowing can bestow, the Medal of Merit was given to three recipients this year.

Warwick Marler, World Rowing’s Commissioner for Recreational and Tour Rowing, announced that the first award was to John and Caroline Turnbull.

He said: “They have been active participants on World Rowing Tours for over 30 years and have facilitated the participation of British rowers in World Rowing Tours throughout that time. They have led the British contingent, providing invaluable guidance for the British participants and have been proud flag bearers for their country.

“They have readily undertaken the responsibilities of boat captains on many Tours. The Celebrating the Thames World Rowing Tour they organised in 2003 was an outstanding success and a benchmark for World Rowing Tours that followed.

“Closer to home back in the UK, they have been at the forefront of the British Rowing Tour ever since its inception, growing the tour from a small number of rowers to what is now often oversubscribed. This year will be the 27th edition of the tour.

“It has been my great privilege to have enjoyed John and Caroline’s company and to row with them.”

A second Medal of Merit was given posthumously to John Ball, who sadly passed away suddenly in November at just 44 years of age.

Andy Crawford, former British Rowing Board member, worked very closely with John, saying: “It’s a testament to our next recipient that many of the rowing community will never have noticed the incredible work that he did behind the scenes.”

John provided infrastructure to rowing events at the National Watersports Centre and also at times, Dorney.

Andy said: “He’d be on site opening up, often at 5:30 in the morning, or earlier, and closing up at the end of racing but, in between, he would ensure the start and finish systems were all working, would manage the photofinish and scoreboard, organise the car parking and security marshals, barrier systems and an endless list.

“John – I know that all those who worked with you over the years would wholeheartedly agree: We will all miss you so much – you are a genuinely unsung hero.“

Vicky Parry from Isle of Ely RC and also Chair of the National Coaching Committee was also honoured with a Medal of Merit, announced by Kate O’Sullivan.
Kate said: “As one of the first rowing enthusiasts to get involved in the process of setting up a public rowing club in Ely in 2004, she has been at various points Treasurer, Vice-Chair, Welfare Officer and Junior Coordinator.

“She is passionate about opening up access to rowing to a wider group of participants, and particularly to young people.

“She has also been a key member of the coaching team for the Ely College rowing project helping to get a number of state-school students on the water and she will be a key part of the programme as it expands and looks to extend to other state schools in the area.”

There are many volunteers who have dedicated much of their life to our sport and our Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates these incredible people. Volunteer of the Year winner Mindy Hothi explained that the Panel were hugely impressed by the dedication of all the nominees – and were unable to decide on a clear winner, so this year there are three recipients for this award.

The three winners are Andy Turner from Queen’s Park High School, Michael Beresford from Southampton University Boat Club and Tony Roper from Yare Boat Club.

Mark said: “What a worthy set of winners. Incredibly, our three winners have over 150 years of rowing between them and are impossible to separate.

“Every one of them has a very different experience of rowing but what unites our three winners is a genuine lifetime dedication to rowing: people who have spent their entire lives rowing and helping others enjoy it.”

Introduced in 1987, the Medal of Honour is British Rowing’s highest award. It is awarded for Outstanding Service to Rowing. The 2021 Medal of Honour goes to Robin Williams, announced by double Olympic champion Helen Glover.

Helen said: “This medal’s going to someone with so much of a coaching pedigree, that it’s really easy to forget that he was an amazing athlete in his own right, winning World medals and Henley medals.

“He wasn’t just important to me and Heather winning gold in London and Rio, he was instrumental to it all. From personal experience, the thing that sets this person apart is that he cares not just about his athlete, his rower, his boat, his result – he cares about every single athlete and rower in the system. He cares about every coach and every member of support staff under that umbrella that we call British Rowing. His passion is just unparalleled.”

The final award of the evening – the Club of the Year Award – celebrates the incredible work that our clubs do in introducing our sport to more people. With over 500 clubs around the country, it was extremely difficult to pick a winner, but this year the award goes to Fulham Reach BC for the second year in a row.

Fulham Reach CEO Steve O’Connor said: “I’m a bit stunned. That’s unbelievable, thank you. It’s been a really hard two years for everybody.

“I think what’s been great is seeing how our little community come together and realised the importance of what we’re doing. And that vision of rowing for all is just so vital to get people out enjoying the river, being active and I think we’re really seeing the knock-on it has on people’s wellbeing. So, to be recognised for that work again, the second year, is testament to all the hard work that our coaches do every single day. Amazing stuff. Thank you so much.”

Mark said: “We were so impressed with your work to offer rowing to new audiences from more diverse ethnic backgrounds, state schools, low-income families and your successful Boats not Bars programme for prisoners.

“Also commended was Lea Rowing Club who the panel particularly cited for their work to ensure they had a broad offer, particularly driving recreational rowing and looking to open their doors to as many people as possible.”

Wrapping up the evening’s award celebration, Mark said: “A massive congratulations to everyone who was nominated, shortlisted and, of course, to all our winners! Without you and the people you inspire every day, our sport wouldn’t be what it is.

“If you’ve been inspired by the achievements of our winners tonight then please do consider volunteering yourself – just speak to someone on your club committee and I’m sure they’ll be all only too delighted to get you involved.”

2021 British Rowing Award winners

Club Crew of the Year: Cantabrigian RC Women’s Club Eight
University Crew of the Year: University of Surrey BC Beginners Men
Junior or School Crew of the Year: Hereford Cathedral School BC J16 Quad
Volunteer of the Year: Mindy Hothi, Birmingham RC
Rising Star of the Year: Eleanor Stevens, University of Surrey BC
COVID Hero: Aline Heyerick, Birmingham RC
Club of the Year: Fulham Reach BC
National Rowing Safety Award: Julie Hogg
Rowing Project of the Year: Fairlop RC

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Andy Turner, Queen’s Park High School
Michael Beresford, Southampton University BC
Tony Roper, Yare Boat Club

The Beryl Crockford Award: Val Edwards, CD Riches

The Medal of Merit: John & Caroline Turnbull, John Ball and Vicky Parry

The Medal of Honour: Robin Williams

Coach of the Year:
Overall Coach of the Year and Education Performance winner: Samuel Tuck, University of Surrey BC
Coaching Team: Wayne Curry, Lauren Barclay, Agecroft RC
Club Development: Rob Mayes, Broxbourne RC
Club Performance: Chris Williams, Tideway Scullers’ School
Education Development: Daniel Grant, University of Leeds RC

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