7th May 1939 – 10th March 2014
On 10th March 2014, Brian Gowman aged 74, sadly passed away after a long illness. He was a member of Westover and Bournemouth Rowing Club for over 56 years and was well-known and respected within the Hants and Dorset Amateur Rowing Association. During his rowing career Brian won many titles for Westover and represented the club as a senior oarsman for many years. However, he will be best remembered by many, as a truly dedicated club man who worked diligently to make Westover a successful club and an enjoyable place to row.
When I joined WBRC in 2007, Brian’s competitive rowing career at Westover had long finished. However, he was still very much a presence at the club and regularly attended regattas as a Westover supporter and an H&D Association umpire. During his time at Westover Brian held most of the official positions at the club, including Captain and President, and was highly regarded by all that knew him. In the latter years he focussed on the organisation of Bournemouth Regatta and was a welcome source of knowledge and advice for newer members. In recognition of his services to the club, he was made a Life Member and Trustee. He was also the Life Vice President of the Hants and Dorset Amateur Rowing Association, having formerly held the position of President.
Brian’s enthusiasm and passion for the sport was evident to all he met and he was regularly seen offering encouragement and advice to crews as they went out on the water. My enduring memory of Brian will be the warm words and the steady hand on the shoulder after a race that made you feel proud to represent the club no matter what the result. Every club should have a person like this and Brian’s passing is a great loss.
In recognition of Brian’s contribution to Westover, the club has named its new coastal 4+ rowing boat after him. Sadly Brian died before the boat was finished, but I have no doubt that the Brian Gowman will see many a Westover crew to victory and that Brian will be looking down, as proud as he always was.
KENNETH GEORGE FRASER
12th March 1922 – 9th April 2013
Ken Fraser sadly passed away after a period of ill health on 9th April 2013. He was 91 years old and was one of the most successful and respected members to pass through the doors of Westover Rowing Club. He had been a member of the club for 78 years.
Ken’s coastal rowing career started at Westover in 1935 as a 13 year old boy and a coxswain to his brother, Archie’s, Novice Four. He steered a number of crews to victory and in 1939 he was considered old enough to row himself. He quickly proved as good an oarsman as he was a cox and won the Novice Fours Championship in his first year at stroke.
During the Second World War Ken served King and Country with distinction as a ‘tanky’ in the Royal Armoured Corps in the Middle East. When he returned in 1947 he was part of a Junior Four Championship crew that helped the club win all three championship events that year – Novice, Junior and Senior – a feat which has not been repeated since.
By 1948 Ken was a Senior Champion and was selected to represent the Hants and Dorset Amateur Rowing Association in the N.A.R.A Championships Eights for the Lord Desborough Cup on the Thames. Westover borrowed a boat on the day of the final and, despite minimal training as a crew, rowed an exceptional race to beat Gladstone RC by a canvas. It was said by one impressed spectator that the Westover crew maintained a strike rate of 44 spm for the entire 1.5 mile course and did not falter once. The victory was even more exceptional given that four of the Gladstone RC rowers had recently competed at the Olympic Games in London that year. The victory was considered a great boost for coastal rowing and the club!
Between 1952 and 1964 Ken won the Senior Fours Championships a further four times. The 1964 season was particularly impressive given that Ken was now in his 40s and had maintained a consistently high level of fitness, technical ability and form for so many years.
Ken was not just a first-class oarsman, he was also a talented football player and was part of an unbeaten Westover Football Club in 1949. He also turned his hand with equal success to water polo, judo and golf. He was the consummate sportsman to all who knew him.
Ken’s competitive rowing career eventually came to an end but he continued to exert a positive influence on the club and regularly attended Hants and Dorset regattas to support the next generation of rowers. He would often be seen in his red Westover jumper and Panama hat quizzing new Westover members about their training regimes and pointing out where crews could improve. Ken was one of the finest rowers that the Club has ever produced and was responsible for some of the club’s greatest achievements. He was a remarkable man and was held in high regard by all that knew him. He will be sadly missed but we are confident that his legacy will live on through the memories of those who knew him and the next generation of rowers who aspire to have their names on the club boards alongside his.