Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Man who rowed at Olympics despite war injuries

MARK BODLEY SCOTT, Henley resident and veteran Olympic oarsman, died peacefully at home, aged 89, on February 11.

MARK BODLEY SCOTT, Henley resident and veteran Olympic oarsman, died peacefully at home, aged 89, on February 11.

He had lived in Henley for seven years, moving from Sonning in 2006, where he and his wife, Jo, had lived for 53 years.

Mark was born into a medical family in Dorset, the youngest of six sons.

His childhood holidays were all spent at Shiplake, where he developed a lifelong affection for the river.

He was educated at Bryanston School in Dorset, where he was a keen rower and captain of boats.

He left Bryanston at 18 and went straight to war, joining the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

On active service in Sicily, he was very badly wounded in an explosion of antipersonnel mortar bombs, losing one eye, damaging his other eye and being torn to shreds by shrapnel, much of which remained in his body for the rest of his life.

He spent nearly a year in hospital in North Africa but he defied expectations by surviving his injuries and eventually returning to active service towards the end of the war.

On demobilisation in 1946, he enrolled at the North London Polytechnic to read architecture and, wanting to keep his fitness up, he joined Thames Rowing Club.

He first rowed in the junior eight and later in the second eight.

The club had a successful Henley Regatta in 1948 and Mark was asked to try out for the Olympic squad for the first post-war Games, to be held in England that year.

Despite having survived such terrible injuries only a couple of years previously, he was selected and was paired up with Bakie James for the coxed pairs. The rowers were all billeted at the Two Brewers Pub in Henley and given extra rations for two weeks in preparation for the Games.

Though Mark himself did not win a medal, he was very proud to be part of the team which included gold medallists Richard Burnell and Bertie Bushnell.

Last year, he was interviewed by ITV for the Olympics and this interview can still be seen on You Tube.

Mark was very involved in local politics, spending 15 years on Sonning Parish Council and Wokingham Rural District Council.

He was also chairman of Sonning Working Men’s Club for 18 years.

In 1953, he married Josephine Stanley, a fellow architect, who still lives in Henley and they had three children, Kate, Susie and Tom, who all survive him.

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