A very successful venture
Leichhardt Rowing Club’s NSW Premiership win in the 1988/1989 Season had followed a remarkable effort by a small group of some 30 young athletes, coached and managed by several former Champion club oarsman all mates from the 50’s/60’s, President Bob Stone and coaches Michael Lowrey and Barry Moynahan.
Some two years earlier young newly marrieds, Mark and Gillian Campbell had joined the Club with both having a strong rowing background, whilst at Sydney University.
Gillian Campbell as a young Physical Education Teacher at Pymble in the ensuing two years, had attained the silver medal at the National Championships in the Women’s Senior Sculls Championship. Gillian was subsequently awarded NSW Oarswoman of the year for the 1988/1989 and 1990/1991 Seasons, and was the winner of four national titles in 1991. She had represented Australia at the 1990 and 1991 World Championships and again represented Australia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the Women’s Double Sculls with Jenny Luff of Nepean.
Gillian had become the first Woman Club Captain at Leichhardt over the period 1988 – 1992. Her performance both as a Pymble teacher and Olympian had encouraged the then College Principal, Gillian Moore, to commence a junior development Rowing program for students at the start of the 1992 season. Competition for Girls’ Independent Schools at that stage was still in its infancy in NSW, but by 1994 about 50 Pymble students were welcomed as Junior Members at Leichhardt.
Change rooms and Boat storage facilities were quickly reorganised in the old Clubhouse, with the students competing in both School events as Pymble Ladies’ College and at Club Regattas as Leichhardt.
Parents from both the Club and College worked well together; club boats, trailers and training times harmonised, notwithstanding quite separate coaching structures and water training. Naomi Goodwin, an outstanding club oarswoman and teacher, was also appointed to the Pymble Ladies’ College staff.
By 1998 /1999, the development of Girls College Rowing within their sports associations realised Pymble as the leader in NSW Schoolgirl Head of the River. They also won the NSW Schoolgirl point score and by March 2000, at the National Championships, Pymble won the Schoolgirl Championship Eights and rowing as Leichhardt Club-Members came 3rd in the National Junior Women’s eight.
Pymble’s outstanding State and National success continued in this century. In late 2007 Gillian Moore retired and was succeeded as Principal by Vickie Waters who will retire mid-2019. Her replacement, Dr Kate Hadwen has experience of leading another Girls’ Rowing School, PLC Perth. A complete turnover in coaching management has also occurred over the years but Pymble continues to flourish, and it remains one of the most successful Girls Rowing Schools in Australia.
Not only students at PLC were involved in rowing as their parents were also enthusiastic supporters, providing breakfasts on training days and all-important ‘Grazing Tables’ at regattas. Fathers, mothers and friends also tried rowing for themselves at the HOPE Regattas which raised funds for the College rowers and for the Club. These fun regattas, hosted on a 500m course at Iron Cove, provided memorable opportunities for amateur, veteran rowers!
By 1996 the Club and College considered extending the old boathouse to accommodate all rowers and equipment. In 1998 a joint building committee was established, and a Heads of Agreement document, facilitated by Pymble parent and Leichhardt Club Member Wade Hewett, saw the deck restoration accomplished. A complete boathouse redevelopment proposal as a Joint Venture between the Club and the College was established in 1999, with a final agreement formally signed in 2001.
The joint building committee of six comprised Barry Moynahan, John Garrett and Bob Stone as Leichhardt Club representatives and Wade Hewett, Geoff McWilliam and Gillian Moore representing Pymble Ladies’ College. Gaining permission from all three levels of Government and finalising building plans took three years of hard work!
The removal of the old clubhouse and rebuilding, commenced as soon as possible and we were all delighted with the official opening of the new boathouse on 9th February 2002, by the NSW Attorney General.
The Building Committee, chaired by Club Vice President, Barry Moynahan with Corporate Development input from Wade Hewett, representing the interests of both Club and College respectively, negotiated all financial aspects including the appointment of architect and builder. Legal aspects were monitored by Hunt & Hunt Solicitors, acting for the College and Lionel Robberds QC, life member and Olympian, advising Leichhardt Rowing Club. Further oversight by the Pymble College Principal, representatives of the College Council and the Leichhardt Executive ensured a safe and appropriate accommodation for young athletes from both sides of Sydney Harbour.
The Agreement was formally signed by the Property Trust of the Uniting Church on behalf of Pymble Ladies College and by the Leichhardt Rowing Club Trust as managers of the Crown Reserve.
Approval of the then Minister for Lands was obtained for a period not less than 40 years with the detailed sharing of costs, boat storage allocation, day to day operation of the facility all included in detail in the formal agreement.
This unique partnership of a rowing club and a school was recognised by Rowing NSW in their awarding of the Kevin Webb Achievement Award in 2002 and by Rowing Australia in presentation of its award at the 2003 Australian Rowing Championships.
The Accomplishments and Honour Rolls of 3 decades of Pymble Rowing share the walls of this joint venture along with the proud history of 130 years of Rowing at Leichhardt. Whilst several young rowers have achieved successful representative and/or academic honours, the shared values of both College and Club, continue to enhance the lives of many.