Friday, 24 September 2021

Rowers give Boris's bottle a lift

A BOTTLE of water passed through Henley as part of the third Source to Sea Relay

A BOTTLE of water passed through Henley as part of the third Source to Sea Relay.

Community groups were involved in carrying the bottle, or ?baton?, part of the way on its 215-mile journey from the source of the River Thames in Gloucestershire to Southend-on-Sea in Essex.

The relay, which started at the Thames head on August 15 and will finish on September 30, is part of the Mayor of London?s Totally Thames Festival.

On Friday the bottle was brought from Benson lock to Goring by the Outdoor Swimming Society.

It was then taken to Whitchurch by staff from the River and Racing Boat Museum, based at Beale Park, near Lower Basildon. The following day, members of Goring Gap Boat Club transported it to Caversham lock in a double scull.

Simone Larche, Pamela Birch, Robert van de Noort, Nicola Stilwell and Sally Lightfoot took it in turns in the boat.

Club chairman Hugh Baker-Smith said: ?It?s the second year we?ve been involved but it was better for us this year as we didn?t have to go past Reading Festival and there was less river traffic as it wasn?t a bank holiday weekend.?

The bottle was taken from Caversham lock to Shiplake lock on Sunday by the members of Thames Traditional Boat Society in their quadruple Thames skiff called Sgian Dubh, which means black dagger.

The crew consisted of four rowers, a cox and a passenger.

The bottle was passed to the Rivertime Boat Trust which took it to the River and Rowing Museum at Mill Meadows in Henley, where it was stored until Monday.

Alan Gapes skippered the trust?s cruiser Rivertime, Rivertime, which is adapted to carry disabled people.

He said: ?We took three people in wheelchairs and their families with us. Everyone seemed to enjoy the occasion.?

On Monday an 11-man Henley Whalers crew in replica whaler Molly, skippered by Geoff Probert, of St Mark?s Road, Henley, rowed the baton from the museum to Temple lock in pouring rain.

Mr Probert said: ?This is the third year we?ve been involved but the first time we?ve done this specific stretch. It was pouring down last year as well.?

The Whalers passed on the baton at Temple lock to the Accessible Boat Club, which is based at Bisham Abbey.

The relay is the idea of former Henley resident Jon Cooke, who was an assistant lock-keeper at Marsh Lock when he was a teenager. He said: ?The relay is longer this year. We decided to make the festival longer, a whole month, so it meant the relay had to start earlier.

?A longer relay means more people can be involved. Lots of the same groups were enthusiastic to take part again.?

Mr Cooke?s father David, who lives in Cromwell Road, witnessed the baton being passed from the River and Rowing Museum to the Henley Whalers.

All participants in the relay were given an orange rosette as a thank-you gesture for taking part.

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