Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
Osler House Boat Club Dinner (1969/70) 1. Barry Fearn 2. David Speller 3. Derek Jewell 4. Simon Smail 5. Sir John Stallworthy 6. Dr Renwick Vickers 7. Bob Reichenbach 8. David Read 9. Michael Silburn 10. Van Hegan 11. Bheeshma Rajagapolan 12. Al Carruthers

The origins of Osler House Boat Club are, rather sadly, a bit lost in the midst of time; but it all began around 1968/9. I was a clinical medical student at that time, and there were quite a few contemporaries who had rowed in college boats; I had rowed at both Worcester College and competed at regattas, Bumps etc. Many of us had missed rowing when we became clinical students and discussions in the bar led to offers of help - even some funds(!) - and we then began looking for a boat to borrow and space in a boathouse to use. Before long, we had some tentative outgoings on the river with Mr. Barry Fearn riding his bicycle along the towpath with a megaphone, trying to get us into shape. Then began the more serious business of setting up the boat club officially, which meant applying for recognition by the Amateur Rowing Association, designing a logo to put on the oars - snake and serpent, naturally - and getting recognition by the Committee of the University Boat Club which ran the spring and summer bumps. I had been a member of the Committee myself when an undergraduate at Worcester College, so that helped in steering us all through the bureaucracy of setting up an 'official' boat club. I recall minutes of meetings of the newly-formed Boat Club being taken, and we had to fulfill all the requirements to satisfy the regulations required by the national regulatory bodies for competitive rowing. 

We had huge support from many senior members, financially as well as practical. After some success on the river in Summer Bumps (starting very low down, as newbies), we had a celebratory dinner at Keble College attended by several senior members, notably Sir John Stallworthy (Gynaecologist) and Dr Renwick Vickers (Dermatology), both of whom very very generous in their support. Renwick Vickers' son (now Sir John Vickers) was a contemporary of mine at Osler House so that might have helped...a bit!

I understand that there are no early records of the Boat Club in existence, although others may have better recall than me. But the happy photo shows not only the joy of the student members but it is testimony to the staunch support of more senior staff in the medical school without which the Boat Club would never exist. 

Professor Simon Smail CBE (1964 Worcester College), Emeritus Professor of Medical Education, Cardiff University.