Boat Club Endowment Project

The Boat Club Endowment Project aims to secure the future of the Boat Club in perpetuity. All new gifts and pledges to this project will be matched pound for pound by Alex Beard and his wife Emma, and we hope to be able to celebrate the successful completion of the project at the 200th Anniversary of the Christ Church Boat Club in 2017.

Dear Member of the House

As I hastily prepared to come up to The House in October 1946, having managed to get out of the Navy a few days before the beginning of term, I was surprised to be told by my father that if I took up rowing I would probably make many of my best friends through the Boat Club. In my mind the Boat Club would be associated with the less polished and intellectual members of the College, which did not appeal to me. But my father was right, and I was wrong; and I value my membership of the Boat Club as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I am honoured to have been asked to write to you, although my rowing career at Oxford was less distinguished than that of either of my brothers, Peter and Francis, who enjoyed rowing for The House as much as I did; or, for that matter, of my uncle and my father, A.C. and C. A. Gladstone, who straddled one of the Club’s annos mirabiles, 1908. I am sure there are members of all vintages who will support this appeal – and all for the same reason, whether or not they had the good fortune to be photographed in Peck with triumphal inscriptions and trophies.

Rowing in my book is a supreme sport because no nonsense need be spoken about the team spirit: the individuality of every member is inevitably a thread woven into a single organic entity – the crew. Once experienced, the poetry of an eight or a four which is ‘going well’ is never forgotten. The subtle refinements of the art of rowing, the physical challenge, the excitement of the chase, the moods of the Isis – the nicebergs of 1947, the floods in which ‘the gulfs may wash us down’, the hay harvest breezes, and the stillness of an autumn evening; and above all the fellowship, which lasts a lifetime; these are the things we all remember. So let us help our successors to enjoy them.