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Young rowers from Marlborough New Zealand take part in Thames Jubilee Pageant

Marlborough Boys’ College rowers hear they can join the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant. Left to right: Tom Wilson (17), Troy Gilmore(15), Mitch Avery (16), Hayden Beavis (17), Harrison Somerville (17), Ron Perano (boat builder), Connor Irving (16) and coach Bill Campbell.   Photo: Scott Hammond and The Marlborough Express  (click to enlarge)Marlborough Boys’ College rowers hear they can join the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant. Left to right: Tom Wilson (17), Troy Gilmore(15), Mitch Avery (16), Hayden Beavis (17), Harrison Somerville (17), Ron Perano (boat builder), Connor Irving (16) and coach Bill Campbell. Photo: Scott Hammond and The Marlborough Express (click to enlarge)Take a close look at these strapping New Zealand lads from Marlborough Boys’ College.  On Sunday (May 27) they’re flying from Marlborough’s capital Blenheim to London to row in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames.

And they’ll be rowing a very special boat.   It’s a 9.7 metre replica of a traditional whaling boat designed and built by Ron Perano who was once a whaler himself, but now works counting whales for New Zealand’s renowned Department of Conservation.

Marlborough businesses and the community have raised $50,000 dollars to transport boat and its six rowers to London – with another $10,000 coming from a local charitable trust.  There’s no tax payers’ money involved.  It’s all been organised by Steve Austin, the head of the Marlborough Museum and Historical Society, who believes the project will help raise awareness of the area’s history.

Marlborough Boys’ College has a strong rowing tradition.  Earlier this year they won New Zealand’s top prize, the Springbok Shield, for under-18 coxed fours.  In the words of their coach, Bill Campbell: “They took the moves at the right time and psychologically stuffed the opposition.”

Bill Campbell has been preparing this crew of rowers for the awesome task of getting used to the whaler’s heavy oars and its fixed seats.  Not to mention that the Pageant calls on them to row for up to four hours as the huge flotilla winds its way along the Thames.  Bill Campbell is sure his crew are up to the challenge: “Rowing is all about stamina and endurance anyway, so the boys are well conditioned for it.”

On Sunday, June 3, over one thousand boats will be taking part in the Thames Pageant to honour the Queen’s sixty year reign.  And there’ll be passenger boats accompanying the flotilla carrying about 30,000 water-borne spectators – not to mention the thousands lining the embankments.

Next day, the whaler’s rowers will be coming down to Marlborough (that is, of course, Marlborough, Wiltshire) for the town’s Diamond Jubilee beacon at Barbury Racecourse (June 4.)   And the morning after that they will attend a civic reception hosted by Mayor Edwina Fogg at the Town Hall – and they will be telling BBC Radio Wiltshire all about their Thames experiences.

You can watch the television coverage of the Thames Pageant on the Town Hall’s big screen from 3pm – entry free with food and a licensed bar.

For more information about the whaler and its crew go to:
www.marlexpress.co.nz
www.thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org/Gallery.aspx

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