Leander Club had the pleasure of welcoming Gavin Jamieson, grandson-in-law of the remarkable oarsman, aviator and rowing coach Hugh ‘Jumbo’ Edwards and author of his biography, Water’s Gleaming Gold last Thursday.
Gavin came to Leander to give a talk as part of the Rowing Book Talk Series organised by Leander Librarian Irene Hewlett. It was Gavin’s father-in-law who had asked him to write the biography years earlier and many years of research led to the book being published last June. Not only does the exceptional story make the biography a great read, Jamieson’s prose is beautifully written and makes the history jump off the page.
The Rowing Book Talks are held in aid of the Leander Trust, a registered charity that enables and encourages rowing and sculling. The evening started off with a presentation about Hinksey Sculling School, a community outreach rowing club and past recipient of two grants from the Leander Trust. Bodo Schulenburg, Director of Rowing at Hinksey Sculling School, attended the evening to highlight the achievements gained with limited funds and how these funds have changed the lives of young people. In the past few years, Hinksey Sculling School have generated over £1m in full rowing scholarships to American universities for young people from non-traditional rowing backgrounds.
Gavin’s book charts the story of Jumbo from a youngster who attended the Dragon School in Oxford and then Westminster School in London where he first started rowing. He went on to compete in the Boat Race and completed a hat trick in 1931 at Henley Royal Regatta (not been repeated since) and won two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics. The book also tells of Jumbo’s passion for flying and his near death experience in WW2 and after recovering turning to rowing coaching. The book is available to purchase from any bookshop or from the publishers via this link: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/biography/waters-gleaming-gold-hb.
The talk at Leander was well attended including not only family of Jumbo himself, but also family of various other individuals featured in the book, including grandchildren of Cambridge oarsman and coach Howard Ricketts, as well as the granddaughter of a rower against whom Jumbo had raced at Henley Royal Regatta in the 1930s. Irene Hewlett said, “We heard a story from an old friend of Mike Edwards’, Jumbo’s late wife, of how they used to host rowers during Henley Royal Regatta and cook feasts for them. The anecdotes shared by the audience made the evening feel immersive, as stories by those directly connected to Jumbo’s life made the narrative come alive in the Leander dining room. Old Pathé clips of some of Jumbo’s pursuits were shown and enjoyed by all.”
“Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the evening, especially so near Remembrance Day, was Jamieson finding the names of Jumbo’s two brothers, both of whom died in action in the Second World War, on the Leander Club Memorial Board.”
The next Rowing Book Talk is on 18 January 2024 and is about the history of Leander Club, based around the Leander Club Bicentenary Book. The event is open to the public, so if you have never visited Leander Club and are curious to find out what is inside, or to learn more about the history of the club, you can purchase a ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-talk-andy-trotman-leander-club-bicentenary-book-tickets. The ticket includes a generous finger buffet with a main, dessert and cheese and is in aid of the Leander Trust, a registered charity to advance the education of young people and their physical education by enabling and encouraging rowing and sculling. The charity has changed the lives of many young people through rowing.