Over one hundred and ninety parents, friend and supporters of Sydney Uni rowing gathered at Dockside darling Harbour last Sunday 17th June for the ?Strathclyde Fundraising Lunch?. The purpose ? to raise funds for the Sydney Uni rowers selected in the 2007 U23 Australian Team. Lunch got underway with the introduction of the U23 Men?s Eight (seven members from SUBC) and Renee Kirby and Charlotte Walters from the U23 Women?s Quad. Renee and Charlotte had travelled from Melbourne where they are currently training. Cam Girdlestone (the tenth U23) could not attend due to training, study and distance issues (Cam is training in the U23 Lightweight Four in southern Tasmania) but did send a note of thanks and some video and photos of his crew in training.
Peter Longman of ABC Sport had graciously given his time to act as MC and once the introductions were complete and entrees consumed Peter introduced our two guests Tom Herschmiller and Liz Kell. Tom is in third year in the Sydney Uni graduate medical program and has rowed for SUBC in two winning State Elite Eights and a winning Oxford and Cambridge Cup crew. Before his arrival at Sydney Uni Tom had rowed for his native Canada, attending the Sydney Olympics and winning the 2003 World Championship in the Coxless Fours and gaining a silver in the same event at the Athens Olympics where his crew was beaten by Great Britain in a classic race. Liz Kell is the reigning World Champion in Double Sculls having teamed up with fellow Sydney Uni rower Brooke Prately to win the title at Eton in August 2006.
Liz and Tom were interviewed about there experiences at the top of our sport internationally and gave some insights into what is required for success at the highest level. The organizers had arranged for a screen and video footage showing Liz?s win in 2006, Tom?s silver medal race and the U23 Eight and Lightweight Four in recent training.
After main course SUBC Vice President, Chris Noel introduced Professor Andrew Coats, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Sydney University and responsible for ?Community? which includes the co-curricular programs and institutions of the university. Andrew spoke of the importance of co-curricular activities in making the student experience at Sydney University special and highlighted how sport can be, not only a great experience for the student, but can project a highly positive image of the university to the community.
Andrew presented funding to the team from the Sydney University Travel Grant demonstrating that Sydney University is tangibly involved in supporting the programs that Andrew had mentioned of being so important. From the size of the applause it seemed that the U23?s and their supporters were most appreciative of the assistance from the university.
After main course was finished there was a frenzy of fund-raising with a raffle (a number of the prizes courtesy of a donation from alumnus Eric Carter), mystery wine bottles and a live auction and silent auction. In the silent auction, the writer was outbid by Darryl Madden for the Big Brother Eviction tickets and the Gold Coast accommodation and in the live auction went down to a rampant Craig Lister for the framed and autographed U23 oar (which by the way had been magnificently framed and presented by Warwick Girdlestone).
When the dust had settled the ?boss? (Anne Lister) seemed happy that the targets had been reached and with the success of the lunch and the supporting grants from Sydney University, The NSWRA Bromley Trust and NSWIS the Sydney Uni U23?s were now fully funded and could concentrate 100% on their training till they depart on 12th July.
Spotted at the lunch were a few SUBC alumni including Australian representatives Steve Newnham (1974 and 1979) and Iain MacDonald (1961). Also on hand were Jane Spring, long term President of Sydney Uni Women?s Rowing Club and David Evans CEO of NSW Rowing.
For five sets of parents it was ?d?j? vu all over again?. Anne and Craig Lister, Diane and Tony Connolly, Kerrie and Mike Allsop, Lee and Dick Estens and Pam and Warwick Girdlestone all had their sons in the 2004 and 2005 Australian Junior Fours. New parents to this ?team? for 2007 included Elaine Kirby (daughter Renee won gold at U23?s in 2006), Bev Alfred, Tony and Pru Goswell, Phil and Shelley Boyce (Tony and Phil are 1970?s alumni of SUBC) and Rob Walters.
Special mention must go to Anne Lister who both hosted and fed the fund-raising meetings with assistance from Craig on the BBQ and Kerrie Allsop who went far afield managing the wine sales.
When the writer departed late afternoon a considerable body of guests were still chatting and drinking ?a sure sign of an enjoyable and successful day.