AN Olympic rower who had a boat named after him said the honour should have gone to his mother.
So when a surprise second boat was unveiled with her name on it, Will Satch was almost reduced to tears.
Shiplake College named an eight after the 24-year-old Leander Club athlete, who used to be a pupil the school, in recognition of his achievements — he won a bronze medal in the coxless pairs at London 2012.
Current students named a pair after his mother Sally, who has coached rowing at the college since 2001, as a thank-you for her support.
The boats, which cost £37,000 and about £10,000 respectively, were unveiled at a sports fund-raising dinner at the college on Saturday.
Among the 130 guests was former England rugby internationals Will Carling, Mike Teague, Dean Richards, Peter Winterbottom and Martin Corry, Olympic rower Sarah Winckless and Henley Royal Regatta chairman Mike Sweeney.
After a champagne reception, the guests went on to the terrace outside the Great Hall for the boat-naming ceremony, which was presided over by Tim Crisford, the college’s head of boats. Satch told the Henley Standard that he owed a lot to the college and found giving his acceptance speech very difficult.
He said: “I have done lots of speeches, especially after the Olympics in 2012, but I had not done one for a while and I kind of choked up.
“I was so nervous because of the family feel I have had there over the years. It was so humbling
“Shiplake gave me the opportunity as I was given the largest scholarship possible to to attend. It also nurtured me and turned me into the man that I am today.”
He had been told in advance about his boat but knew nothing of the tribute to his mother.
“I had absolutely no idea about my mum’s boat,” he said Satch. “I was a bit tearful and a little bit emotional, although she was more so.
“That for her was a really big thing and would have made her year. She is going to see those boats every day and bring back some memories.”
Satch, who lives in Duke Street, Henley, always keeps an eye out for how Shiplake College does in rowing competitions and is pleased with its progress. I think they have the momentum and now they have the best equipment,” he said. “I want the boat to go very, very fast. It is great to have the best equipment but you need to row quick.”
Ms Satch, who lives in Reading Road, was stunned to have a boat named after her. She said: “Working in the school all these years you would think that there are no secrets but I had no idea. It was amazing, it rendered me speechless.
“They said they had asked the boys and they said me. I don’t think that I deserved it. It puts me in the realms of older people who have boats named after them.”
After the ceremony, the guests returned to the hall where they played heads or tails and TV antiques expert Jonty Hearnden, another former student at the college, was the master of ceremonies.
They then had a three-course meal of twice-baked goat’s cheese, beef and a rum chocolate desert with white chocolate ice cream. Winckless was interviewed by BBC Radio Berkshire presenter and Henley Standard columnist Tim Dellor. She told how she got into the rowing and of the ups and downs of her career.
Carling then interviewed the rugby players before taking questions from the floor.
During the evening pupils sold raffle tickets. Prizes included signed autobiographies by Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis and a T-shirt signed by Lawrence Dallagio. Guests also took part in a silent auction followed by a live auction. Satch offered to take out someone in the new rowing pair to the highest bidder and four parents each bid £500 so their children could spend time with him.
The night raised about £9,000 to and college sports tours. Headmaster Gregg Davies said: “We are extremely grateful to all the speakers who attended our sports dinner and in the process helped raise funds for future Shiplake College sports tours. The money raised will give a number of our pupils who otherwise might not be able to participate the opportunity to participate in these once-in-a-life time experiences.”
Mr Davies, a former rugby referee, said he had been transported back in time when he met the former players but added: “The trouble was when I looked in the mirror I seemed to have aged in a way that Will Carling himself hadn’t!”