November 29, 2008 in John Blacker Society
I am writing to announce the formation of a society to bring together members of the Balliol College Boat Club, past and present. As you may have read in Floreat Domus, Balliol Men’s First VIII went ‘Head of the River’ during Summer Eights this year, and the Women’s First are hoping to do the same next year. The impetus to establish a society of this kind came from Balliol’s Old Members, many of whom got in touch to express their support before Eights, and later their pleasure on learning of our achievement. In the words of the current President of the Boat Club, Hunter Harris (2006): “The support and encouragement of Old Members was a tremendous boost to all of us this year. Receiving ‘good luck’ emails and letters from many of you during Torpids and Eights was one of the highlights of my time as Men’s Captain. The Boat Club is a community which plays a significant part in all of our lives while up at Oxford, and I hope that it continues to play a role in our lives after we leave.”
Old Members have expressed what those of us currently in the BCBC feel: rowing at Balliol is more than a sport – it forms a community that supports you during your time here and, in many cases, forges friendships that continue after you leave College. I realise that not everyone who receives this letter will still be interested in rowing or the fortunes of the Boat Club. However, judging from so many messages of goodwill and support, and the presence of so many of you down at the river during Eights Week, I believe a good number of you are. I hope that, by writing to everyone we have from old boat lists, those of you who would like to keep in touch with the BCBC via the Society will make yourselves known to us.
We have named the Society, the John Blacker Society, in honour of the Balliol oarsman whose efforts put Balliol Head of the River in 1952, for the first time since 1879. John was an inspiration to generations of Balliol rowers, not least the current generation. He was with us at the river during Eights Week last Term – only months before his death on 28 September 2008. Please find his obituary in the attached newsletter, written by Neville Mullany (1950), honorary Senior Member of this Society.
I have gladly accepted the task of organising the Society with the full support of BCBC members and the BCBC Trustees, and am pleased to enclose the first edition of our termly newsletter, The Blacker Bulletin. It contains information about the current status of the Boat Club, updates on race results, and contributions by members on key times and features. Please do send us any articles, anecdotes, tales, or records of your own rowing memories at Balliol. We would also appreciate any stories of how rowing has affected your lives.
For the Society to reach its full potential, it will need the involvement of Balliol’s Old Members who rowed at College and who would like to stay in touch with the BCBC. To do this, we ask you to visit our website, www.bcbc.co.uk, and sign up online to become a member of the Society, through which you will receive the newsletter by email. If you prefer not to sign up online, please do contact me, either by email or by post so that we can keep in touch in other ways; naturally, please do let us know if you’d rather not receive the newsletter in future.
Maya Bahoshy (2006)
Women’s Captain 2007-8