Tributes paid after last surviving Erith Rowing Club founder Alf Botterill passes away
TRIBUTES have been paid to the last surviving founder of Erith Rowing Club (ERC) who passed away on January 13.
Alf Botterill, who was 84, travelled widely with the club, rowing as far afield as Canada, the USA, Sweden and the Czech Republic after helping found the group as a teenager in 1942.
The mechanical engineer was a decorated young sportsman growing up in St John's Road, Erith and St Audrey Avenue, Bexleyheath, winning silverware for boxing and table tennis on top of his rowing success.
Alf came back to the sport in his fifties after years out with back problems and went on to win gold medals at every FISA World Masters Rowing Championships from 1982 in Amsterdam to Strathclyde in 2005.
His daughter Jackie Ailey, 50, praised a "wonderful man" who "always strived to do the right thing".
She said: "Dad didn't really have other hobbies; rowing was it.
"As such a successful single sculler he was very self-disciplined and determined.
"The tributes and kind words we have received from the many people who knew him from the rowing world and beyond said he was a gentleman."
Alf won his first rowing medal at Erith Regatta in 1945 to be followed later in life by a number of Amateur Rowing Association National Championships.
He was made lifetime vice president of ERC in 1998 for his years of service to the club which included organising the Danson Dashes regattas in Danson Park from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The Bexleyheath resident was awarded Bexley Council’s first civic achievement award in 2003 by Mayor Ann Lucas.
Alf even managed to run the 1983 London marathon in 4hrs 9mins - at the age of 54.
The last time he took to the water was as an 83-year-old in February last year at the Lea Rowing Club in Hackney.
In 2007 Alf officially reopened the new Erith RC clubhouse in the old police station on Erith waterfront.
In his speech the lifelong rowing fan said: “Erith Rowing Club now has a great opportunity to build its membership and encourage the youth of the area into this great Olympic sport.”
There will be a funeral service for Alf at Hither Green Crematorium at 1pm on January 25.