Friday, 17 September 2021

Woman who provided second home for rowers for 15 years

HAVING spent 15 years hosting rowers, Dot Adamson knows exactly how much they eat.

HAVING spent 15 years hosting rowers, Dot Adamson knows exactly how much they eat.

The athletes need to consume many more calories than a normal person because of the energy they burn when in a boat or the gym.

Mrs Adamson recalls one rower staying at her home in Binfield Heath who scoffed a dozen scrambled eggs for breakfast.

“They went like that,” she says. “He was a big boy.”

The 5ft 3in tall mother-of-four was used to having big men in the house thanks to her sons, Jack, 32, Toby, 30 and Fergus, 27.

“My eldest is 6ft 6ins and the others are 6ft 4ins and 6ft 2ins so I’m used to looking upwards!” she says.

She is one of the dozens of people who host visiting crews during Henley Royal Regatta.

It all began in 2001 when her boys still lived at home and her husband Euan was still alive.

Her daughter Sarah Hesz, now 34, was working at regatta headquarters, next to Henley Bridge.

The family had just completed a conversion at their five-bedroom home in Common Lane, so the timing was perfect.

Mrs Adamson recalls: “Sarah phoned me and said, ‘can you put some people up?’ We didn’t have any association with rowing at all. My three boys were all rugby  players. But the regatta were desperate for room so we had these boys from Molesey Boat Club. There were eight, so it was a full house. I loved it.

“I also had a team to support, which was lovely. It really gave us a lot more interest in rowing. It’s quite nice to know a little bit about what’s going on.”

Since then Mrs Adamson has always hosted Molesey rowers, although she has never had a whole eight again. She has also never had a crew that has been knocked out on the first day of the regatta.

Famous names to have graced her home include double Olympic champions Andrew Triggs Hodge and Peter Reed and multiple world champions Moe Sbihi and George Nash. Alex Gregory, a gold medallist in the four at London 2012, also stayed in that very first year she began hosting.

Mrs Adamson, who has taught special needs children at Gillotts School in Henley for 25 years, says: “Molesey has been a very successful club. There’s huge competition between them and Leander.”

She admits to having no idea what makes a good host. “Perhaps it’s because I’m enthusiastic,” she says. “I enjoy cooking and I’m quite good at mass catering.”

Another reason could be that her guests are given priority over her family.

She explains: “My family and their friends often sleep in the garden in tents. They don’t mind — they quite like it and they get on very well with the rowers.”

Euan, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Henley Wanderers eight years ago, particularly liked the camaraderie between the rowers.

The guests typically get up early in order to be on the water for a training row at 6am.

Mrs Adamson says: “Sometimes they come back here and eat and then they probably have a sleep. It all depends what time they are rowing that day.

“It’s mostly eating and sleeping and a bit of rowing in between!

“I’ll always cook a big meal in the evening, so there’s always food. You never know if you’re feeding one or 20. I’m very lucky because I’ve got a big kitchen.

“The amount of food they eat is enormous. It’s usually pretty simple food, like lasagne or cottage pie. It’s high on calories but there’s lots of protein as well.

“Moe’s a Muslim so I have to be quite careful with his food.

“My signature dish is chocolate brownies. I had some of the boys staying here and one particular rower really did have a brownie problem! [GB Rowing’s chief coach] Jürgen Grobler came into the kitchen and said ‘no more brownies!’ The rowers were putting on too much weight.”

There have also been some memorable celebrations at her house, although the rowers are fairly sensible about this since they usually have to train or go to work the next day.

Mrs Adamson says: “There have been some fairly riotous evenings here on Saturday night but that was not without the involvement of my own sons!

“That was in the early days. Then some of them became very good and became sensible.

“The GB crew may have the odd beer but very rarely. I’ve nothing but admiration for the way they train.”

She is not hosting a crew this year but insists she would help out again if called upon.

Mrs Adamson says: “Some of the boys will finish this year as it is their final Olympic cycle. I’ll have to go back to the beginning,  I suppose.

“I could have a new generation of rowers but in another 15 years I’ll be in my dotage!”

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