Monday, 23 July 2018

Town medal presented to community sport devotees

THE former organiser of the Henley half marathon and a rowing coach have been honoured for years of service to

THE former organiser of the Henley half marathon and a rowing coach have been honoured for years of service to the community.

Ian McGaw and Chris Boothroyd were each presented with the Henley town medal at a special ceremony at the town hall.

Both men are members of Henley Rowing Club, where Mr Boothroyd served on the committee for 30 years and has been captain, secretary and vice-president as well as a successful coach.

Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin presented the medals with Deputy Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak in front of an invited audience in the council chamber.

Mr McGaw, of Lauds Close, Henley, organised the half marathon for nine years until 2011. During this time, the event raised more than £100,000 for local and international charities.

In the early years, he had to key in each one of the 2,000-plus runners’ names.

Mr McGaw is a Liverpudlian who worked as an insurance broker in his native city and stood as the Conservative candidate for St Helens in the general elections of 1970, 1974 and 1979, losing to Barbara Castle twice and once to Jack Straw.

He moved to Henley in 1984 and has been involved with a number of community organisations.

Mr McGaw was vice- chairman of the Henley Citizens Advice Bureau for a year and was also chairman of trustees and chairman of the Friends of the bureau for six years, the maximum period allowed, from 1999 to 2005.

He also helped save the Thame bureau from closure with the help of friends Bill Parrish, of Blandy Road, Henley, and Peter Allen, of St Katherine’s Road, Henley. He was also the bureau chairman for two years.

He has been a governor of The Henley College for 13 years.

He became a member of the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge in 1986 and has twice been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship, which is named after the organisation’s founder. He has been club president twice.

He was a serving elder at the Christ Church Centre for two years and is now a non-serving elder, providing companionship to 15 members of the congregation.

He also helps the Reading Road centre with insurance issues.

Mr McGaw, who was president of the Reading Insurance Institute in 1996, retired in 1997.

He has been a member of Henley Rugby Club since 1984 and a season ticket holder for the last 16 years. He also volunteers in the office at Dry Leas. Councillor Gawrysiak, who nominated him for the medal, said: “He did not quite make it to Right Honourable Ian McGaw but anyone who has met Ian knows that he is definitely ‘the Honourable Ian McGaw’.

“Ian’s wit and humour is brilliant. He will make quips and off-the-cuff comments that make people laugh and, at the appropriate moment, will prick pomposity.

“I rang Ian today to get my facts straight and we were musing on his humour. He said he would bring a hanky to wipe away the tears during my speech.

“I can truly say that Henley is a brighter place for having Ian here — he is a shining example of community involvement and is eminently suitable to receive the Henley-on-Thames town medal.”

Mr McGaw, who was accompanied at the ceremony by friends, said he was surprised and delighted to win.

He said: “When the Mayor rang me she gave me two dates and I picked the first one in case she changed her mind.

“I had no idea — it came completely out the blue without warning but I am thrilled.

“I am still learning the right occasions when the chain can be worn. I have it, not quite under lock and key, but in a secure location and I am looking forward to every occasion when I can use it.”

Mr Boothroyd joined Henley Rowing Club in 1970, competing in many local regattas in the fours and eights and winning on several occasions from the novice to elite B categories before moving into the administration and coaching side of the sport in the Eighties.

He is one of the club’s trustees and looks after its website as well as promoting local rowing events including the Henley Sculls, Henley Fours and Eights.

He is also entries secretary for the Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta.

Last year, he coached a junior girls’ crew that won the inaugural women’s junior quadruple sculls event at Henley Royal Regatta and also won at Henley Women’s Regatta.

In 2011, he received the British Rowing Medal of Merit.

Mr Boothroyd, 62, a quantity surveyor, lives in Sonning Common, with his wife Elaine. The couple have two grown-up children, Katharine, 30, and John, 27.

He was recommended for the medal by Martin Unsworth, whose daughter Jo was a member of the quad.

Mr Unsworth said: “Chris has worked with young people in rowing for many years and coached the Henley quad which won the first ever girls’ event at the royal regatta.

“He has been out coaching every weekend and evening for as long as I can remember, which he does alongside a full-time job.

“He is a truly top coach — dealing with teenagers is always a challenge, as I know only too well, and he deserves a medal.”

Cllr Hodgkin said: “He has been the Henley Rowing Club’s chief junior coach for many years and has consistently produced medal- winning crews at national schools regattas and the national championships.

“In his spare time he coaches the junior sections of the club throughout the year and has the arduous task of towing the club trailer to wherever the event may be — even to the annual international in Ghent.

“Many of these young crews have gone on to represent Great Britain and England at the Home Countries international, the England/France match, the Coupe de la Jeunesse and the world junior championships with great success.

“For dedication to rowing generally and for consistent success over a considerable number of years to junior rowing in particular, he is recognised as one of the top rowing coaches in the country.

“It is with great pleasure that Henley Town Council is delighted to award him a town medal in recognition of his dedication to not just the sport of rowing but to working with young people and nurturing their talent.”

Mr Boothroyd said his award came as a complete surprise and that it was down to the support and expertise of others and not just him.

He said: “It is one of those things where I get all the glory but a lot of people at the rowing club do all the hard work — it is as much theirs as it is mine.

“We did well last year at the inaugural [women’s junior quadruple sculls] event at Henley, which was a very big in the rowing world because everyone went out to win that event and we were exceptional to win it.”

Mr Boothroyd said he was proud to be affiliated with such a successful rowing club.

He said: “We have also done really well at the Coup de la Jeunesse, which is the equivalent of the European championships, and the world championships with athletes representing Great Britain.”

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