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Young rowers taking to the water at last
Buy this photo » Nicholas Randall and young rowers with the boat carrying his name
THE COUNTY’S only state school rowing club is looking forward to creating some waves in the ‘elite’ sport after being given a rare boat by an admirer.
Cheney Falcon Rowing Club launched at Cheney School, Oxford, last year and quickly signed up 40 youngsters.
Three-time lightweight world champion single sculler Peter Haining, himself a state school pupil, also came on board and agreed to coach the Cheney rowers.
But most of their activity until now has been on dry land on rowing machines, because of a shortage of money to buy boats.
Cheney Falcon spokesman Dr John Forster said: “While there has been no lack of young rowers eager to join us, and we have been winning indoor rowing titles left, right and centre, it has been a struggle to fund boats, and up until now we have just borrowed them. “But we appealed for help in the Oxford Mail for help and now it seems our prayers have been answered.”
Nick Randall, 54, a stockbroker and rowing enthusiast from North Wales, heard about Cheney Falcon’s plight after a chance meeting with coach, Peter Haining, and decided to help.
He said: “Last summer at Henley Royal Regatta I sat next to Peter and he told me about Cheney School and how he desperately needed an octuple eight for the girls JU14 squad. To Peter’s complete surprise I replied instantly that I could help.”
Father-of-three Mr Randall has donated two wooden boats to Cheney Falcon, and the first to be made ready for training and racing is a shell eight, or Octuple.
The second will be a highly-prized triple scull.
Dr Forster said: “The Octuple is a beautiful craft and we believe this is the first time one has been owned and used for junior sculling training on this stretch of the River Isis in Oxford. The children can’t wait to get out on it.”
Mr Randall launched the boat, which has been named after him, at Falcon Boathouse near Donnington Bridge last week.
He told the young rowers: “It is a huge privilege to be part of the excitement and development of this new school boat club.”
A new set of riggers, (metal catches which hold the blades or oars) have been built for the boat by famous boat builder Eric Simms, and paid for by Thames Water.
Cheney Falcon is now busy fundraising for 16 new blades, which will be part-funded by the rowers of Merton College.
Mr Haining said: “This boat is going to let Cheney Falcon take flight on the water.”
Anyone interested in supporting Cheney Falcon should visit cheneyfalcon.co.uk
AT THE HELM
Young ‘cox’ Chris Headland, 13, is looking forward to taking his place at the helm of the new octuple.
The Year Nine Cheney School pupil said: “I started training to be a cox last year at the suggestion of my PE teacher and I love it. It’s a big responsibility but very exciting. The new boat is super fast and I can’t wait to get in it on the water.”
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