Shrewsbury School

Former Shrewsbury School teacher and rowing coach honoured at boat naming ceremony

Friday 13 May 2022

With Shrewsbury Regatta in full swing in the background, a Top Squad girls' quad was christened in recognition of the enormous contribution that Gordon Woods has made to the Boat Club over the course of his remarkable career. 

Headmaster Leo Winkley commented: “Gordon Woods has a long and loyal association with Shrewsbury School as a former member of staff – a Housemaster twice over and Second Master, as well as inspirational Rowing Coach – and also more recently as Safeguarding and Staff Liaison Governor. It is entirely fitting that the School honours Gordon’s dedication, kindness and service in all things Salopian, not least on the river. We are deeply indebted to him and to his wife Emma for all they have given the School.” 

Steve Fox, current Geography teacher at Shrewsbury and long-term colleague of Gordon, gave a speech at the Boat Club, highlighting Mr Woods’ incredible contribution to the school.  

“Having learned to row at Durham School, Gordon narrowly missed out on a seat in the blue boat as his arrival at university unfortunately coincided with Oxford having their strongest, heaviest crew on record.  Instead, he was selected to race in the second ever lightweight event, stroking the 1976 crew to victory before going on to be the winning president in 1977. 

“When he first started teaching at Shrewsbury in 1979, Gordon was tasked with looking after the J15 ‘B’ VIII but his prowess as an inspirational coach was quickly recognised so, in the ensuing years, his coaching ability was put to good use by RSSBC, including a stint as coach of the First VIII.  His real forte, though, was producing a string of Second VIIIs that kept even the fastest of First VIIIs on their toes.  Gordon’s crews won the Elsenham Cup at the National Schools’ Regatta three years on the trot in 1983, 1984 and 1985, the first victory being by an incredible 3 lengths. 

“Even when he was housemaster of Oldham’s Hall and, subsequently, School House, Gordon still found time to coach a variety of crews to the very highest of standards, winning medals at the National Schools’ Regatta on more than one occasion and coaching a J14 quad to victory at Reading Amateur when NSR was cancelled.  At that time, he forged tremendously strong links with Pengwern Boat Club: a relationship that he rekindled in his retirement, not only by coaching their masters crews but also by supporting his wife, Emma, whilst she learned to row. 

“In his roles as Second Master (1999 – 2003) and as the Common Room representative on the Governing Body more recently, he remained hugely supportive of the boat club so it is a real shame that the original “Gordon Woods” – one of Dave Jarvis’s last ever wooden eights – was sold.  Having left such an enormous legacy to RSSBC, it was entirely right and fitting that the new Hudson should be named “Gordon Woods II”.  As Gordon himself said: 

May God bless her and all who row in her.” 

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