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History of Barwon Rowing Club

Chapter 8 - Hard All to the End 1970-1990

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This was the same club that in the preceding season had boated 120 crews and set a record for the number of regatta wins. It possessed a strong and capable administration and a fleet of 14 boats and their own towing vehicle. The meeting decided to take no action but suggested that those interested join the Corio Bay Ladies Club. But the girls wanted to row with Barwon and they persisted. Finally, in September, it was agreed that the women could forma properly constituted club and obtain affiliation with the VLRA and that Barwon would give them every assistance within its powers, providing of course that the male members were given precedence with the use of equipment.

The inaugural meeting of the Barwon Ladies Rowing Club was held at the home of Mrs. Armitage, in North Geelong on 2 May 1974. Mrs. J. Gardiner was elected president, secretary Mrs. Armitage and treasurer, Donna Quinn. The club's first members were M. Cawthray, A. Cawthray, Donna Quinn, C. Murray and G. Armitage. A letter was sent to the men's club requesting permission to use their colours and name. The assistant secretary of Barwon wrote back on 15 May, advising that the proposal "with regard to acceptance of ladies rowing in this club" was accepted in principle. Within a month the secretary, following another lengthy committee meeting, wrote to the ladies regretting the implication that they would be accepted as members. "Procedural difficulties which were not formerly apparent" prevented this course of events, and it was suggested that the constitution of the VLRA banned members belonging to a men's club. At the July meeting Lex Quinn informed the men that there was nothing in the VLRA constitution that debarred members of a ladies rowing club from also being members of a men's club. He suggested that a sub-committee be formed to confer with the BLRC in an attempt to reach a mutual agreement as to the operation of the two clubs. This sub-committee would have the power to recommend, if it saw fit, that the ladies be admitted to the club on the terms recommended by them. In September Lex Quinn moved and Ray Lahey seconded that a Special General Meeting of the Barwon Rowing Club be called to consider a motion for the admission of ladies to the club. At the special meeting the motion lost on a show of hands and so the Barwon Ladies Rowing Club set off on its own.

Barwon Ladies Rowing Club founding members

Barwon Ladies Rowing Club founding members

Catherine Murray, Donna Quinn, Gillian Armitage, Anne Cawthray, Michael Quinn (cox), Lex Quinn (coach)

Co-inciding with rejection of females as full members of the club was the resignation of one of the club's most valuable supporters in Muriel Grose, wife of ex-captain Bill. Never admitted as a member, she had been president of the social club for the last eight years and a member for more than 40 years. The monthly social club meetings were held at her home in Belmont and the Christmas meeting supper was said to attract the club's largest attendance. Her service to the club was marked with the presentation of a pearl brooch. The value of her work for the club is incalculable but the majority of the club's funds for the purchase of equipment originated in her effort and enthusiasm.

At the end of its first rowing season, 1974/75, the president of BLRC reported a successful year. The women had won all the Maiden events in which they were entered and had competed in some open events. The club already possessed a set of oars and were hoping to buy a boat in the not too distant future. Plans were underway to build their own boat trailer. As Mrs Armitage reported, "we started off the year with nothing but the will to succeed" but they already had more than $200 in the bank.

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