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American couple donate £200,000 to rowing club
AN AMERICAN couple have stunned Marlow Rowing Club by giving them a second £100,000 donation towards the £2m restoration of their clubhouse.
Ex-Marlow residents Chuck and Carole Pieper, from Boston, USA, stepped in with cash after a blaze destroyed the club in August 2011 - and have now given the second sum.
Club Captain Sally Reay said: "This is phenomenally generous of them, we're so touched by what they're doing. The club has quite an extended family and people from all over the world have contacted us, it's amazing the friends we have.
"It's astonishing generosity and they're such close friends, they're following us closely on the internet since it happened.
"We could never have dreamt of this, it's really significant and going to help us move forward."
Mr Pieper, a former president and CEO of seven General Electric businesses and a Vietnam War veteran, used to row at the club.
Having learned to scull that year while living in London, Mr Pieper took up rowing at Marlow Rowing Club and made its crew for the Henley Regatta - becoming the second oldest person ever to race there at that time in 1996.
Mr Pieper, in his 60s, now competes regularly at a high level in various masters events worldwide.
Mr Pieper said they had made the donation because the club remained in his heart despite returning to America in 2000.
"We feel very much a part of the family- always have since MRC welcomed us some 17 to 18 years ago," he said.
Club spokesman Lynne Moran said: "Marlow has special memories for Chuck and Carole and they made many friends here. Chuck was a great inspiration and support after the club fire.
"From day one he encouraged us to get on and replace the burnt remains with a new boathouse at a time when we were devastated and not really knowing where to begin after the fire."
The club is set to discover if it will get £1m from Sport England later this month.