SHIPLAKE COLLEGE held a celebration dinner to mark 50 years of competitive rowing.
The speakers were former deputy head Shane O’Brien, a New Zealander who won a rowing gold at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, and former student Ben Hunt-Davis, who won gold with the British eight at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Mr O’Brien spoke of his pride at his former college pupil Will Satch winning a bronze medal at the London Olympics this summer.
He also recalled how the teenage Satch’s approach to hygiene left much to be desired as he often did not to shower following his training sessions at Leander Club. Mr O’Brien, who was Satch’s housemaster, said: “I taught Will Satch and it wasn’t always easy — it tested every teaching skill I had.
“But he worked hard despite 95 per cent of his brain being dedicated to rowing and achieved good GCSE and A level results.
“I have utmost respect for him and what he has achieved and I know there is more to come.”
He compared the size of his gold medal to 23-year-old Satch’s substantially larger bronze, to the amusement of the audience.
Other guests of honour included alumni Richard Lester, who won silver at the 1976 Olympics and is part of the college’s governing body, Malcolm Carmichael, who won bronze at the 1980 Olympics, and Mark Hunter, who won gold at the Beijing Olympics and silver at the London Olympics and began his coaching career at the college.
The college’s 1962 four attended the dinner and one of them flew from Canada specially for the occasion.
Other guests included people who had rowed for the college over the last 50 years.
A wooden boat was used as a bar, oars in the college’s colours decorated the hall and guests received a mini-oar as a memento. An honours board listing the names of all the students who have rowed at Henley Royal Regatta was unveiled while in the afternoon a regatta for past and present pupils and staff was held.
Headmaster Gregg Davies said: “Fifty years is a big landmark. Will Satch having done so well at the Olympics was the spur to do something as he was at Shiplake in my time as headmaster.
“It is still very special to row at Henley Royal Regatta. I rowed at Kent in America, which competes in the regatta so I know how prestigious it is to row at Henley.”