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Gold medal rower toasts boat at Marlow Rowing Club ceremony
PARALYMPIC gold medallist Naomi Riches toasted Marlow Rowing Club’s rise from the ashes yesterday at a boat-naming ceremony to honour some of its most hard working and influential figures.
The oarswoman, who topped the podium at London 2012, was one of six people instrumental to the club's success to have a boat named after them in line with tradition during a special event at Bisham Abbey.
With captain Sally Reay absent due to regatta duties, Olympic legend and club president Sir Steve Redgrave addressed the gathered crowds and introduced the new boats, which will be used by the club’s rowers.
The names included long-term member and former Wasps player Chris Lenton, who was praised for his work getting the famous club back on its feet after fire gutted the riverside clubhouse in August 2011.
And Riches, who learned her trade in Marlow’s boats before her stellar career took off, said she was proud to leave her legacy in the water for a potential future medal-winner to train in.
She said: “It’s a real honour, especially with the rebuilding of the club moving forward. Even though the boats and members have been scattered since the fire, it’s great to be a part of the club that’s stayed together so well.
“It’s one thing to be recognised by people in the sport and internationally, but to receive the recognition of your friends and peers like this is a really special treat.
“I think my boat will be used for training juniors, and it would be a fantastic feeling if someone were to then go on to achieve success, it would be a tremendous full circle story. I think I might be a bit too big for it though!”
Other boats officially named at the ceremony on the River Thames at Bisham were Russell Peacock, Helen Selden and Hillbilly.
And Mary Newman, who died last year, received a boat in her name paid for by friend Monika Schooler from Germany, who was unable to make the trip from Frankfurt because of flu.
Sir Steve paid tribute to the spirit of the club and its members, with the building of the new state-of-the-art clubhouse imminent.
He said: “This is the sort of ceremony that happens all around the country at different clubs, but the difference is when you don’t have a clubhouse it can be a challenge.
“It’s great for people like Naomi who did all her rowing at Marlow and has achieved such huge success internationally.
“The new facilities are going to be so important in rowing terms. But in the last two years, with a burnt-out clubhouse we’ve still achieved great results and that’s down to the people here.
“It just goes to show you can have the most state-of-the-art facilities, but without the people it’s worth nothing.”
As well as a £1million Sport England grant for the new clubhouse secured in March, the club needs to find an additional £400,000 for the ambitious project.
Club committee member John Yeatman said he is confident the money can be raised without borrowing a penny from banks, with £215,000 already pledged so far.
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