Gliding Down the Thames in “Clemmie”

‘“Clemmie” has two masts,’ Martin Wainwright writes, ‘one for her standard with the famous, almost Nelsonian words: “Am I nearly there yet?” and the other with the naval signal flag for “I am manoeuvring with difficulty; keep well clear”.’

5 September 2018

By Göran R Buckhorn

HTBS is still in a ‘Three Men in a Boat’ mode. So when information about the Treehouse Project landed on the editor’s desk, it just has to be mentioned on our website. Martin Wainwright is raising funds for the project by going down the Thames in Clemmie.

Martin Wainwright

On Friday, 7 September, Martin Wainwright, an old colleague of Chris Dodd from The Guardian, is setting off in his faithful touring sculling boat Clementine, ‘Clemmie’, from Port Meadow in Oxford to Eel Pie Island, which is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (for those of you who don’t know). This is a voyage of a little more than 100 miles. ‘If all goes well,’ as Martin puts it, he will arrive on 15 September, in good condition this editor hopes.

So, why is Martin doing this? Well, he explains

Half a century ago, I enjoyed sculling as a schoolboy and last year I took to the river again, wobbling about in a knife-thin single scull for the first time in all those years. My aim was to raise money for Holy Cross Hospital in Haslemere, a brilliant place whose patients include a young cousin of mine who was very seriously hurt in a cycling accident two years ago. As his great friend Tom Hatton put it, ‘the lights went out a bit’ for all of us; but since then they have started to come back on again. Ever so slowly, but it is happening.

Now Tom and other amazing friends of my cousin’s plus our large and lively family are raising money for a woodland walkway at Holy Cross.

The project is called the Treehouse Project and Martin has joined the fund-raising by sculling Clemmie on the Thames. His economic backing is well under way ‘and if you can help my morale by sponsoring me in aid of the Treehouse Project that would be fantastic,’ he writes.

Martin seems well prepared. In May, he enjoyed a capsize test in the heated swimming pool of an Oxford girls’ school, then went ‘on the micro boating lake at Hinksey Park in the summer and survived autumn tourist traffic and hefty college boats on the Thames,’ he remarks. Martin continues ‘I owe a huge debt to Hinksey Sculling School, the City of Oxford Rowing Club and Glide Boats, the inspired inventors and makers of Clementine.’

Martin remains confident that he will have raised £5,000 by the time he casts off on Friday. Of course, HTBS would like to help him to not only reach his goal but to exceed it as the Treehouse Project seems to be such a worthy cause, me thinks.

To go to Martin’s fund-raising page, please click here. Read more about the Treehouse Project here.

Last words go to Martin: ‘It’s not going to be easy, but I think I can do it. Every donation will keep me going and, much more important, bring stimulus and a taste of the great outdoors to patients at Holy Cross. Warmest thanks for taking an interest.’

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