A RENOWNED rowing coach and University Boat Race winner from North Oxfordshire has died aged 71.

Nick Bevan saw his crews win the Special Race for Schools at the Henley Royal Regatta seven times and also took a crew to victory at Westminster School’s Schools’ Head of the River Race, the National Schools Regatta near Nottingham, and the Henley Royal Regatta, all in 1982.

He was one of the first coaches to take a schoolboy crew abroad, first to Australia in 1974 and then to South Africa in 1978.

Mr Bevan, from North Aston, near Banbury, was also known for his unusual tradition of making his crews clean their teeth before getting into their boats to start a race.

Nicholas Vaughan Bevan was born in the Limes Nursing Home, Shrewsbury, on February 21, 1942, to parents David and Hilary Bevan.

He was a pupil at Shrewsbury School, where his father was a housemaster and taught for 42 years. At school he became head of his house, captain of the boxing team and was a horn player in the brass band.

It was there he also showed the first signs of his rowing prowess, when he and a crew of schoolmates won the Princess Elizabeth Cup in 1960.

After leaving Shrewsbury he studied geography at Balliol College, and was in the crew that came from behind to beat Cambridge in the 1963 Boat Race.


Oxford Mail:

  • Oxford in the 1963 University's Boat Race 

During his time at university he also taught fellow Balliol student and the present King of Norway, Harald V, to row.

In 1963 he joined the Army, serving in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and over five years was stationed in British Honduras, Plymouth, Singapore, Malaya and Mauritius.

While doing his service in Singapore, he won the Far East pairs at rowing in a tri-service regatta.

He married Jane Tildersley in April 1967 and they had their first child Kate, in 1969, followed by Edward in 1971.

However, the marriage was later dissolved.

In 1968 he resigned from the Army and went to study for a certificate of education at St John’s College, Cambridge.

After qualifying as a teacher, he took his first teaching job at Westminster School in 1971, where he also coached rowing.

In that first year, his team won at its school’s head of the river race. He then went to teach at his old school in Shrewsbury in 1973, staying there until 1988.

It was there that Mr Bevan made a mark as a rowing teacher and also followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming housemaster.

In 1978 he married Annabel O’Connor in Shrewsbury and they had two children, Oliver, in 1979, and Emily, in 1982.

In 1988 he felt it was time for a change and became the headmaster of Shiplake College, near Henley.

In 2004 Mr Bevan retired and moved to North Aston.

He sat on the management committee of the National Schools Regatta and continued to coach under-15s at St Edward’s School, Oxford, as well as Balliol College’s women’s eight.

In September last year, he suffered a major stroke and it was later discovered that it was due to renal cancer.

Nick Bevan died at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital on January 12.

He is survived by his second wife, Annabel, and his four children.

A funeral service took place at St Mary the Virgin Church, in North Aston, on January 20.

There will be a memorial service at Balliol College Chapel on Saturday, May 10.