Doing the Right Thing*: The Oxford Bursary

13 August 2020

By Tim Koch

A ‘JustGiving’ page set up by Oxford University Boat Club, Oxford University Women’s Boat Club, Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club and Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club reveals what some of the student rowers were up to last weekend:

On 8th-9th August, members of the four Oxford University boat clubs will be running, cycling and erging as many kilometres as possible to raise funds for eight bursaries at Fulham Reach Boat Club. The Oxford Bursary, as it will be called, will be awarded on a need-basis to BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] junior athletes for whom the cost of rowing is prohibitive. This is part of a commitment to increase the outreach activity of the university clubs, and more generally to support movements for equality. 

2014: Katherine Grainger opens Fulham Reach Boat Club flanked by CEO Steve O’Connor and some pupils from a local state school, Hammersmith Academy.

There are many clubs and initiatives are currently enacting change. We have decided to partner with one we know and trust, Fulham Reach Boat Club. FRBC operates a youth rowing programme designed to bring rowing to those who would otherwise be unable to participate due to financial or other barriers. They focus on both introducing young men and women to the sport, through state-school partnerships in physical education, and the development of committed junior athletes. This is made possible by a mix of government and private support, and volunteer work. 

2016: Some state school pupils from West London’s Burlington Danes Academy who row at Fulham Reach Boat Club visit Trinity College, Oxford.

The Oxford to Fulham Fundraiser will support the programme. Members of the four Oxford clubs have been pooled and divided into teams, and will race virtually between Oxford and Fulham, covering the 100 mi distance as many times as possible… In doing so, we aim to raise £4,000 to cover the cost of a year’s membership for eight athletes (four men and four women) from BAME backgrounds who would otherwise struggle to meet this cost.

Click here to donate. By the evening of Sunday 9th, the £4000 target had been reached but any additional funds will be rolled over to next year.

The pandemic has forced the row to Fulham to be ‘virtual’. In December 1932, however, “The Daily Mirror” reported on an upcoming actual Oxford to London row, this by a crew from Wadham College, Oxford.

In the inter-war-years, in particular, rowing eights from Oxford to Putney was not uncommon. The Belfast Telegraph said of the 1932 Wadham effort, ‘Yet another Oxford college eight is rowing down from Oxford to London at the end of term’. The Nottingham Evening Post wrote, ‘The fashion of rowing (from Oxford to London) has come into vogue in recent years…’ Despite this, and perhaps because December is usually a ‘slow news’ month, Wadham’s row was well covered by the press and even a cinema newsreel got involved with a film titled “Oxford to Putney. A Long Pull! Wadham College Boat Crew row the 104 miles in 16 rowing hours”. Watch it here:

The Wadham Crew pictured in the “Bystander” magazine of 10 December 1932.

Returning to the present and the subject of raising money, Fulham Reach Boat Club wants to hire a Fundraising Manager. If you, or someone that you know, may be interested in this new role, follow the link on the Charity Job website.

Fulham Reach Boat Club, a charity with the aim of ‘unlocking the potential of young people through rowing’, puts 1,000 state school children a year on the water, 64% of which are BAME and 62% of which are female.

Finally, if the Oxford University clubs can raise over £4000, the clubs from ‘The Other Place’ (who have won 5% more men’s races and 46% more women’s races) probably believe that they can do the same – or better. Could the Light Blues produce a ‘Cambridge Bursary’ to match Oxford’s?

*See HTBS of 12 June.

One comment

  1. Cambridge are Doing The Right Thing for London Youth Rowing:

    @CUBCsquad Aug 14. Next week we are joining up with @MossbourneRow and are hitting the ergs to raise money for @LYRowing. In teams of 5, we are rowing 72,405m – the length of the tidal Thames – over 3 days. A perfect event to celebrate us being one club with one goal.

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