The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Wheels of tragedy

Posted by rowingvoice on July 8, 2013

Christopher Dodd

Sadly, cycling continues to take its toll of rowers. Toby Wallace, who rowed for Cambridge in the 1988 and 1988 Boat races, was mown down and killed by a truck on the A30 near Summercourt on Tuesday 2 July while undertaking a charity cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats for the Kirsten Scott Memorial Trust. Also killed on the first day of the ride was his Aberdeen Asset Management colleague Andrew McMenigall.

The charity that they were riding for was set up in memory of an Aberdeen colleague who lost her battle with cancer in October 2011. The driver of the lorry was arrested by Devon and Cornwall Police on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and bailed until October.

Wallace was a senior relationship manager for the company, based in Philadelphia. He joined Aberdeen immediately after graduating in geography at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 2000.

His coach at Cambridge, Robin Williams, sent me this tribute: ‘Some people in life draw energy from those around them while others give it. They are ‘radiators’ and everyone wants to stand next to them to feel their warmth, energy and positivity. Toby was most definitely one of those people. In the years he rowed at Cambridge I never saw him in a bad mood. Not once. Always cheerful, always giving his considerable efforts to the crew and the club.

‘Toby was one of those individuals you uncover now and again who are perfect for rowing and you get in a boat as quickly as possible. He learned to row from scratch at Cambridge. He trialled for the CUBC in his second year, secured a seat in the Goldie crew and won the Goldie-Isis race. The following year he won his seat in the Blue Boat and won that too. In the 1999 crew he sat at bow – all 6ft 7ins of him, and did a superb job in a brilliant crew which became the benchmark for later generations. He went on to row for Great Britain and could clearly make a success of anything he turned to in sport or in life. A true natural talent.

It is sad in the extreme that the world has lost him and in such tragic circumstances. It is hard to find the words to express his loss.’

In 2012 Wallace joined an eight-man crew that rowed across the Atlantic to raise money for the Kirsten Scott Trust.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen, said: ‘I knew both Andrew and Toby well. They were dedicated and popular members of our senior team. The fact that they died in such tragic circumstances while trying to help others less fortunate tells you much about their selflessness and humanity. This is a terrible time for the company. More importantly our thoughts are with the families of Andrew and Toby.’

On a more cheerful note, I see that Jimmy Tomkins has been sworn in to the IOC’s athletes commission. The Aussie veteran of the Oarsome Foursome who competed at six Olympics and won three gold medals, was elected last year at London 2012. ‘It is a very exciting and proud day for me becoming a member of the IOC and representing athletes worldwide,’ he said. ‘I’m really looking forward to contributing to the ongoing success of the Games and ensuring the Olympic movement is a beacon for society.’

Tomkins wasn’t in Henley yesterday, but there were sightings of former Canadian men’s coach Mike Spracklen buying a round of Pimms for Russians, Alan Campbell’s former coach Bill Barry interviewing Brazilians rowing at American universities, and Bob Janousek, the former GB coach and boat builder who set British rowing back on the Olympic medal path in the 1970s.

The celebrity of the day was Dr Charles Eugster, the world’s oldest comepetitive oarsman. The 93-year-old is holder of 36 world masters golds, many of them in a double with Thames’s Pauline Rayner. His rowing began at St Paul’s School, continued at Thames and transferred to Zürich Ruderclub when he moved to Switzerland.

By the hand of a Steward, Race No 5 on Thursday: ‘Poplar led down the island as Taurus suffered from errotic steering. But Taurus found a stronger rhythm…’

Christopher Dodd’s book, Pieces of Eight, the story of Bob Janousek and his Olympians, is available at the RRM and HRR shops or by mail order from

“Pieces of Eight is a fascinating book, full of drama and colour, essential reading for anyone interesting in rowing, sport in the 1970s or understanding what it takes to build world-class teams.” – Professor Tony Collins, Director of the International Centre for Sports History & Culture, De Montfort University

For information on Chris Dodd’s books, visit


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