This weekend Marlow Rowing Club officially christened two additions to its para fleet courtesy of the Douglas Bader Foundation’s generous support who were there to join in the celebratory honours.
The Douglas Bader Foundation mission aligns tightly to adaptive rowing:
- “The Douglas Bader Foundation exists to advance and promote the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of persons who are born without or have lost one or more limbs, or are otherwise physically disabled. The Douglas Bader Foundation was formed in honour of Sir Douglas Bader in 1982 by family and friends – several of whom had flown side by side with him during World War 2. Douglas Bader was honoured in 1976 with a Knighthood for his work on behalf of the disabled.”
Sir Douglas’ daughter as well as several representatives joined the Marlow adaptive/para squad for some champagne (both over the bows and in glasses). The two boats connect back to the most recent Paralympian of the club, Kingsley Ijjomah:
- “Spitfire” – “Spitfire” is a PR1 Filippi boat previously owned by Kingsley which he raced in at the Tokyo Paralympics. He has decided to retire from Pararowing and therefore had to sell the boat. Douglas Bader Foundation funded the purchase so the club could keep this piece of club history and so it could be used for the next generation of PR1 paralympians. The name “Spitfire” was chosen to honour the craft that Sir Douglas flew not only as a famous war hero, but also as a disabled pilot who flew in World War II with heroic distinction despite being a double leg amputee.
- “Lady B” – “Lady B” is a PR1 Swift boat previously owned by Cantabrigian pararower Claire Conon who retired and moved onto other sports. She loaned the boat to Kingsley for training when “Spitfire” was shipped early (by slow boat) to Tokyo last year. The squad liked it so much it applied to Douglas Bader to help buy it (especially as value-priced, second-hand adaptive boats rarely become available). The name honours Douglas Bader’s equally adventurous and activist wife, Lady Joan Murray Bader, who passed away in 2015. The Express described her as a “champion for the disabled” in her obituary.