Celebrating our 18th from the Beginning
Memories from Robin Atkinson an early committee member and present MTRF Deputy Chairman.
I remember my first committee meeting in May 2001 in the old Marlow Rowing Club bar. I was the chairman of Marlow 41 Club and I processed the ticket sales. The committee was made up of members of Marlow societies and was led by James Campbell.
The Town Regatta was formed out of the ashes of the previous Marlow Regatta which had taken place since 1885 and had been forced to move the senior events to Dorney Lake. The town gave support to a continuation of a regatta together with the Traylens Funfair and the fireworks. The new event was called Marlow Town Regatta & Festival and was put on the week before the previous regatta. Sir Steve and Lady Ann Redgrave and the Marlow Rowing Club also supported us right from the beginning.
We followed the concept of the previous regatta and had a subscribers’ enclosure and a public enclosure. Marlow Round Table ran the bar as before.
I warmed to Jim from the outset and he was a very amiable and modest person and he had plenty of time for everyone. He was a Marlow Councillor, Town Mayor and was involved in many local organisations. He was a primary school Headmaster, Territorial Army Officer serving in Borneo in 1965 and went on to become President of the Royal British Legion, Marlow Branch.
The Original Marlow Town Regatta Committee from 2001 was:
Sir Steve & Lady Ann Redgrave Jim Campbell – Joint Presidents
Jim Campbell – Chairman
Gill Sweatman – Minutes Secretary
Mike Barlow – Marlow Park Cricket Club – Parking
Peter Hunt – Marlow Rowing Club – Rowing Activities
Danny Churchill – Contracts
Lance Slater – Publicity and Crafts
Peter Hogg – Publicity
David Saunders – Layouts
Tony Shannon – Infrastructure
Bill Wells – Land
Dennis Sergeant – Marlow Showcase Stalls
Peter Ewing – Infrastructure
Frank Crowley – Treasurer
Robin Atkinson – 41 Club – Ticketing and Database
Mark Iwaszko – Round Table – Bar Licence Holder
Nigel Bowater – Round Table – Bar organisation
Alan Coster – Secretary & Ticket Sales
All the tickets were processed by cheque and by post. We used to have “Envelope Stuffing” days at the Chequers pub. For the first year, we only had a one day event and we successfully mixed up dragon boats with junior rowing. We marketed the event via the “Yellow Peril” folded information sheets which were distributed around the town and at “Awareness Days” in the High Street. The weather for the first event was mixed but fortunately, the town had supported us and it was a success.
The next year we decided to launch the 2 day event with rowing on the Saturday and Dragon Boats on the Sunday followed by a Chas and Dave concert on the putting green in the evening.
David Saunders then designed a wooden footbridge to cross Harleyford Ditch. Together with Tony
Shannon and Bill Wells they fabricated it in pieces in Tony’s garden and then transported it to the site. This bridge is still in use today.
This set the pattern for the next 10 years when we had sponsorship for the Saturday event from Michael Shanly and for the Sunday evening concerts from Sony. Mike Barlow and Danny Churchill pulled in fabulous tribute bands covering Abba, Queen, The Beatles and Eagles and many more.
Eventually, the Town Regatta had to evolve into the style we see today and when Jim Campbell sadly passed away in 2011, Nav Ali took the chairmanship and has steered the committee successfully since then.
Jim Campbell’s contribution has been remembered within the Town Regatta in various ways. Firstly by the riverside picnic pitches and then by the Riverside Dining. For this year, we are pleased to remember Jim by a Riverside Promenade designed by his daughter, Sarah, who is a now a current committee member. This will be open to all subscribers.