Friday, 24 September 2021

Junior rowers support club officials

MORE than 75 junior rowers at Henley Rowing Club have signed a letter supporting two officials who were investigated by British Rowing over claims of “inappropriate behaviour” towards junior girls.

MORE than 75 junior rowers at Henley Rowing Club have signed a letter supporting two officials who were investigated by British Rowing over claims of “inappropriate behaviour” towards junior girls.

Last week, the Henley Standard reported that club president John Friend has been banned from the sport for a year after failing to investigate the allegations.

British Rowing said that Mr Friend and club chairman Jeff Morgan were made aware of alleged bullying and favouritism in crew selection by a coach at the club but did not deal with it appropriately.

Both men voluntarily stepped down from duties on April 15 last year when the investigation was announced, as did club captain David Lister. Mr Friend, a Henley Royal Regatta steward and former umpire, has now been banned retrospectively from that date until April 14 this year. He and Mr Morgan will have to undergo safeguarding training and will be mentored for at least six months until British Rowing’s case management group feel they are fit to return to the sport.

An investigation into a third official at the club is still continuing. None of the complaints relates to sexual misconduct.



Ciara Buckley, who was a junior at the club from 2012 to 2015, has written to the Henley Standard to highlight her “positive experiences” at the club.

She says she never experienced any unfair treatment in her time there and wants to let people know about the hard work the men put into their voluntary roles.

Miss Buckley, 19, of Gillotts Lane, Harpsden, said: “Jeff and John were always around at the club. They were all always really supportive and put a lot of effort into training us. They don’t get paid for what they do and they put so much time and work in.

“I would see Jeff around the club and he would always ask what I was up to and have a chat. Likewise I would run into John around and he was a friendly face. He was always working in the background and doing things.

“David was my coach and while it was a competitive, sporting environment I never felt like I was treated unfairly. If I put in the work I got my rewards.”

Miss Buckley has created a Facebook page where she posted the letter and asked others to add their names. More than 70 people have signed the letter so far. Miss Buckley said: “I thought they weren’t portrayed in the most positive light and wanted to put across the good experiences that I and other people have had at the club.

“A few people shared their own positive experiences of the club on the Facebook page, which was good to see. It was just a different perspective, saying they were really grateful to all the coaches at the club.

“A lot of the people who signed the letter are a similar age to me and some, such as the junior boys, had Jeff as a coach.

“They wanted to voice their support for him and the club in general. There were lots of really strong crews which David, Jeff and John were involved with.”

Mr Friend and Mr Morgan did not respond to requests for comment.



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