Members of the Lea R.C.'s Recreational squad and former rowers share their sadness at the passing of Gordon on Monday 27 March, and gratitude for his great contribution to their squad, the club as a whole, and to the sport in general.
Over the last decade or more, Gordon and his wife Irene have been key members of the Rec Rowers, and we have benefited greatly from Gordon’s coaching skills as well as his knowledge and stories of the river over the years.
Gordon first became involved in rowing at the age of 10 when, on the towpath with friends, someone said to him “Hey, you’re little, do you want to learn to cox?” He was, for many years, the junior coach alongside Jimmy O’Neil, Barbra Kaye, Alan Turner, John Nash who coached under the cover of the Inner London Education Authority. The ILEA was instrumental in allowing many disadvantaged children the opportunity of rowing regardless of background, including West Indian, Jewish and Turkish. They were allowed to race against the public schools of England - such as Eton, St Edwards and Radley - and they won. Many went on to achieve further success for Lea R.C., England and the Olympic squad, and one became the first Muslim to race for GB. The foundation laid under the care of these unsung heroes followed by the work of subsequent coaches made Lea R.C. a formidable club.
Gordon also helped organise and run an education programme for Year 6 pupils in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in which he took groups up to Markfield Park in the rescue launch, pointing out birds and teaching about the historic role of the river and surrounds, in the water and sewage systems, while other children had a go at rowing in the tubs. If they got wet, he had them imitating the cormorant’s approach to drying their ‘wings’ – young children always loved him.