Richard Smith, Captain of Boats 1988, organised a reunion of RSSBC’s 1st VIII of 1988 on the OS Day that took place at Shrewsbury on Saturday 21 September. This was to celebrate a quarter of a century since we had all last been in a boat together, and also to support Nick Bevan who was due to officiate that day as President of the Salopian Club. We were Nick’s last 1st VIII before he left Shrewsbury to become headmaster at Shiplake College.
After meeting up outside KH, in some cases for the first time since 1988, and admiring how much most (all?) of us had changed in the intervening quarter century (less hair and/or more weight generally), we enjoyed a good lunch that set us up nicely for a quick row in the afternoon. A good number of us had not rowed since 1988 when we had celebrated reasonable success. That year we were 2nd at National Schools Regatta (lost by half a length to Hampton) and had made it to the semi-finals at Henley (lost by a few inches to St Edwards).
Nick Randall (who had rowed in the 1976(?) RSSBC 1st VIII) kindly sub’ed for Mark Jones. Mark had, very sadly, the most terrible car accident aged 19 and was unable to take to the water with the rest of us but it was absolutely brilliant that he was able to be with us on the day. In addition James Wheatcroft, our cox in 1988, was unable to stay for the rowing and he was sub’ed by [name – currently a cox at the school?]. Personally, I found it an amazing experience to be in 'the boat' again with the vast majority of our original crew after more than a quarter of a century. After a slightly scrappy first few strokes, things came together quite quickly – perhaps not so surprising when we had all rowed together for the 5 years we had been at school. In fact there were definitely some pieces where it did feel something like the VIII of '88 (perhaps less so when we were puffing a bit towards the end!). If Mark and James had been in the boat (and Nick Bevan had been able to coach us from the tow path on his bike) it might have been the truly authentic experience!
A brilliant day was had by all, and all credit to everybody for making it to Shrewsbury from various corners of the country.
Andrew Pitt (Rt 1983-1988, 1st VIII 1988)