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MAY 2020

Leander athletes training during lockdown. Top: Ruth Siddorn, Georgina Brashaw , Alice Davies & Sam Redgrave, James Stanhope, 
Middle: Seb Devereux, Will Satch, Matt & Geoprge Rossiter, Gill Cooper
Bottom: Gemma Hall, Ed Grisedale, Heidi Long, Lauren Irwin
Leander athletes training during lockdown. Top: Ruth Siddorn, Georgina Brashaw, Alice Davies & Sam Redgrave, James Stanhope, Middle: Seb Devereux, Will Satch, Matt & George Rossiter, Gill Cooper Bottom: Gemma Hall, Ed Grisedale, Heidi Long, Lauren Irwin

For the next few months, until life is more certain, we will be publishing a shorter monthly online newsletter for Members in place of our biannual printed editions.

Articles, photographs and ideas, as well as news of our Members, are always welcome and should be addressed to the Editor, Barbara Wilson at

Welcome to the May edition of the newsletter and thank you for all the feedback regarding the online format. In this edition, we pay tribute to Paul Budd who will be retiring at the end of June. Alistair Brown gives an insight into the current rowing programme, and we have a video blog from two athletes about how they are training. There are also several important notifications below, in particular, relating to the Annual General Meeting.

I hope you enjoy this month’s edition; we appreciate your feedback and any suggestions of what you would like to be included in the future. In June’s edition, we will welcome our new General Manager and hope to have a further update as to when the Club may reopen.

Barbara Wilson, Editor

Postponement of the Annual General Meeting

As a result of the present Covid-19 pandemic, Leander remains closed in line with Government guidance. The Club will re-open when it is decided safe for “clubs and hospitality” to resume business. This will not be until July 2020, at the earliest.

Due to these unusual circumstances, the Annual General Meeting, which was originally due to have taken place on 28 June, will now be postponed until the Club has re-opened.

Whilst some clubs can opt to hold a virtual meeting, Leander’s Articles stipulate; “33.2 At a general meeting, 25 Voting Members present in person shall form a quorum.”

As a result, we do not have the option of a remote meeting.

The rescheduled date for the AGM will be published as soon as practicable. Appropriate arrangements will be put into place to stage the AGM safely, with a combination of postal and online communications and voting.

I trust that Members will show understanding of the action we are taking to ensure the AGM goes ahead safely in these difficult times.

Fiona Dennis, Hon. Secretary

Remembering our Members

Sadly, several Members have passed away since publication of the Autumn 2019 newsletter including Aleyn Grellier, 1948 Olympic medallist Paul Bircher and John Hall Craggs. Details of all Members can be found on the new ‘Remembering our Members’ area on the website by following the link here.
This online format has been created to enable details to be updated more regularly and provide more flexibility in recognising the contribution of our Members.

Leander Golf Day

It is with deep regret that the Leander Golf Day at Huntercombe Golf Club on Tuesday 9th June is cancelled. Golf courses were only allowed to re-open on 13th May but under severe restrictions which are most unlikely to be lifted in June. The intention will be to hold a Leander Golf Day in 2021.

Coaching During Lock Down

I feel huge sympathy for our athletes who have dedicated their lives to training over the last three and a half years to get to the point of the Olympic cycle, only to have their season cancelled. Equally, for our development squad athletes who are based at the Club preparing for Henley Royal Regatta, it is a shame that they will not be able to compete this summer after all their hard work and sacrifice.

Our biggest concern as a coaching team during lockdown has been the wellbeing of every athlete. They are used to training in a large group with great camaraderie between the squads. Training alongside their friends, sharing the same dreams of competing in the summer, and then to suddenly be in isolation at home, away from everybody and with no summer races to look forward to, is a very big life change for them.

The next job was to communicate with the athletes, wherever they were going to be staying during the lockdown, as many had already decided they would move out of their smaller shared rented accommodation in Henley and return to their family homes.

Once it was clear that everyone would have to stay at home and self-isolate, the decision was made to divide up the equipment from the gym for each athlete so that they could continue to train from their homes. It was a sad end to the season helping them load ergos and weights into their cars, not knowing when we would be back together again as a squad.

The next job was to communicate with the athletes, wherever they were going to be staying during the lockdown as many had already decided they would move out of their smaller shared rented accommodation in Henley and return to their family homes. The coaches took time to learn where each athlete was going to be based and who they were living with, so that we could identify anyone who may be on their own, needing extra support from us.

The athletes were put into groups and allocated a coach to work with them during this time in isolation, so every athlete would get quality time and attention.

Mark Banks, Leander’s Director of Rowing and Chief Coach was keen to keep the coaching team on their usual schedule of a team meeting every morning, although now this is on zoom, via the internet on our laptops. In the daily meetings, each coach gives an update on their group as to how each athlete is getting on. His remit was broken down to 3 key points: athletes and coach wellbeing, athletes taking ownership of their programme and communication.

It was decided very early on by Mark to give the athletes freedom during this time to create their own training programmes, based on the equipment they had available. Each coach worked closely, but remotely, with the athletes in their group to identify key areas that they could focus on, whilst letting the athletes make their own decisions. Most of the athletes were keen to take the opportunity to go out on their road bikes as they enjoy it so much in pre-season. Guidance was given from the coaches to create a weight training routine to maintain their strength, this was challenging with limited gym equipment and resulted in some resourceful ideas, using objects they could find in the garage to build their home gym.

I was allocated a group of athletes containing women and men from our development squad. Once the athletes had established their particular targets, the coaches and athletes set about designing the training programme and we quickly got into the groove of lockdown training.

My house is crazy at the best of times but with the schools being closed I have two little boys aged 8 and 6 who need to be home schooled! This leaves me searching for a quiet room in the house to get on with some work while my wife Rebecca, takes over the teaching for the next lesson. I am good at the PE lessons and I will leave the rest in her capable hands.

Before this pandemic started I had not heard of “Zoom” but now I couldn’t live without it, spending hours of my day using it in meetings and coaching athletes during weights and ergo sessions, refreshing every 40 minutes!! The only thing I don’t enjoy about it is having to look at a picture of myself; it reminds me I am getting older and I need to do more exercise myself.

I am incredibly fortunate to work in this coaching team with some of my closest friends who I have rowed with at Leander with since I was young. Most people’s work meetings might be a bit of a chore, but ours – whilst being productive – are always fun to be a part of. I am sure the athletes see this and it all adds to the positive atmosphere that has been created.

I am hopeful life will get back to normal soon, and all of this will be a distant memory in years to come. But for me, I will always remember how close it brought our Members together whilst ironically not being able to gather in person.

Thanks to all our Members for their continued support of the Club and we hope to be back stronger than ever next season, to give you all something to smile and cheer about.

Alistair Brown, High Performance Coach, Leander Club

HRR Prince of Wales June 2019, Ali Brown (coach), Victor Kleshnev, James Cartwright, Seb Devereux, Sam McKeown

12 years of service to Leander Club

Shortly after I arrived at Leander in August 2008, I was asked to write a piece for the Newsletter giving my first impressions of the Club. These impressions I summed up under three headings: professional, challenging and friendly. Looking back now over my twelve-year tenure as General Manager I think these first impressions have stood the test of time admirably.


I have always sensed within the Club an underlying drive to achieve the best for our athletes and Members. In 2011, we crystallised this sense of purpose as ‘striving for excellence on and off the water’. Our results on the water reflect professionalism from our coaches, athletes and the Rowing Management Group that it would be difficult to argue against. I would like to think the same professionalism remains true of our front of house team that I manage. Several key staff have been here longer than me and their professionalism was already embedded in the staff DNA when I arrived. The caring and vocational approach that all the staff display to their respective jobs and our Members and athletes underpins now we continue to do business.

I have also been impressed by the volunteers, that core of committee members and ex committee members who willingly give their time and experience to put back into their sport. These volunteers provide the strategic direction, governance and are the guardians of the look and feel of the Club. There is nothing amateur about the way this core of Members operates and work alongside the professional staff.


The main challenge given to me by the Committee on arrival was to improve the footfall within the Clubhouse and therefore the trading revenue stream. There has never been a ‘silver bullet’ solution to achieve this and no sooner had the challenge been set than the task significantly increased with the onset of the 2009 financial recession. This recession took the edge off Member spend in the Clubhouse but much more seriously for us, set in train a fundamental re-evaluation by the corporate sector of how they spend money on entertainment, external meetings, food and accommodation. We have consistently tried to respond to this change and to seek innovative ways of attracting the non-Member pound, without upsetting our core Members’ expectations and the look and feel of our prestigious Clubhouse. I believe this remains the central challenge and it requires both fine judgement and a good understanding of the Members whose collective subscriptions are the lifeblood of the Club’s continued existence. I expect this challenge will remain a high propriety or my successor, along with the impact of COVID-19, which may have a more profound impact than the recession I faced.

Many other challenges keep life interesting within Leander. Maintaining the old part of the building is a constant drain on funds. Added to this there has been an exponential rise in regulatory compliance standards requiring us to spend more money and tick more boxes. Keeping abreast of IT developments, personal data and financial security, developing a relevant web and social media presence and trying to match on-line ordering expectations in our humble shop with those set by the multi-nationals are all significant challenges that we are managing with no more office staff than we had in 2008. I believe I have been very lucky to have such dedicated and caring staff in my team.


What makes being at Leander so rewarding is that notwithstanding the professionalism, and sometimes the emotion we direct at the challenges we face, we remain at our heart a Club of like minded people with a common purpose. We have grown our Membership over the first half of my tenure and maintained it over the second and I firmly believe that friendliness and respect for others must stay at the centre of the way we operate. Whether you are a member of staff, a volunteer committee helper or a visiting Member, you will only maintain your engagement with the Club if you feel welcomed and appreciated. We need creative tension, but we have never needed self-centred hostility or confrontational management styles to get business done efficiently. In thirty-four years in the military, I learnt that leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. Long may than continue to underpin the way Leander operates.

I consider it a great privilege to have been a part of the Leander enterprise. I shall miss it hugely when I leave but looking back I consider myself very lucky to have been in the role at such a pre-eminent period in the Club’s illustrious history. I have worked alongside so many talented caring people and I will miss them most of all.

Corpus Leandri Spes Mea.

Paul Budd, General Manager

Jeremy Randall writes …..

Photo: Paul Budd and Jeremy (Ras) Randall courtesy of Peter Holland

I well remember, twelve long years ago, the reservations expressed by many when the news leaked out that a military man, a colonel no less, had been selected from a strong short list as the Club’s new General Manager.

Fears of a fierce individual sporting a handle-bar moustache were unfounded, the Club was in the hands of one of the least pompous people you could hope to meet. Paul was soon to befriend the Membership on a wholesale basis, making him one of the most popular General Managers that the Club has ever had.

Following a very successful rowing career at University College School and continuing as a GB youth international, Paul was deservedly made a Member of Leander Club on arrival. He displayed great enthusiasm for all things Leander, and it was fortunate for the Club that his appetite for work matched his enthusiasm for Leander and, under his leadership, the Club blossomed.

Arnie Zarach Paul Budd, Brian Armstrong enjoying afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament Bicentenary event

His most obvious contribution was in the high standards he demanded for food and service, and that, together with his careful oversight of the state of our Edwardian Clubhouse, are evidence of his ambitious and capable management.

It is no coincidence that Paul’s twelve loyal years coincide with one of the most successful periods for the Club. The strap line so often quoted was ‘striving for excellence on and off the water’ and achieving the second part of that aim was very much down to Paul. The Club’s memorable bicentenary year, which was enjoyed by so many of the Members, remains a testament to his organisational skills.

I know I speak on behalf of the Membership when I say thank you for all you have done Paul, we wish you well in your thoroughly deserved retirement.

Jeremy Randall, President, 2013-2018

Video Blog updates from two of our Vice Captains

james robsonJames Robson

Shares his thoughts on life, lockdown and …

Watch his video here








Susie Dear

Shares her thoughts on life, lockdown and …


Watch her video here


The Club is always delighted to welcome new Members and you – the existing Members – are best placed to identify and to nominate potential new candidates.

For further information click here

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