6TH JULY 1953 – 9TH JULY 2016
Ronald Eggleton (Ron to his many friends), a life member of the club, very sadly passed away unexpectedly on 9th July 2016. Larry, his son, and club member since a junior, writes his obituary below.
Ron was born in Peckham in the summer of 1953 to Reginald (Reg) & Sylvia Eggleton, where he was the youngest of 3 children. He was significantly younger than his siblings Carol and Robert (Bob), which his parents explained away to him with remarkable frankness from an early age that he was ‘a happy accident’. This became something of a running joke, especially when out with Bob as many people assumed Ron was the older of the brothers!
Ron grew up in a flat on Putney Hill, which is still owned by the family and was also home to myself for a few years whilst at University. A lifelong SW London boy, he had an irrational dislike of East London for some reason.
Ron joined Putney Town Rowing Club as Junior in the 1960’s, following in the footsteps of his older brother Bob and their father Reg, who were already part of the club. In those days of course, PTRC was based underneath the Dukes Head pub in Putney- a venue which played a big part in his social and rowing life. The small cramped boathouse underneath the pub held a small collection of wooden clinker boats, with a couple of larger fine boats based in a shed nearby.
Members used to go rowing, get changed and showered upstairs and then repair to the bar for refreshment, where the PTRC Supporters club (including Ron’s father Reg) met to support the club and help fundraise for new equipment.
Ron had a successful career as an oarsman in sweep and scull spanning over 20+ years, and was a fervent Tideway man representing PTRC at the highest level during that time, at Henley Royal Regatta and nationally. He also enjoyed a successful spell at Auriol Kensington Rowing Club, where he enjoyed a strong Thames Cup run- but true to his roots remained a member of PTRC during that period whilst competing and making many lifelong friends elsewhere, including other tideway clubs and ones nationally and internationally. At PTRC, Ron eventually became a life member and served for many years on committee, including as club captain in the 1976/1977 rowing season.
Ron also found time to marry his lifelong wife and partner Angela in 1977, after initially meeting a few years earlier in the old Midland Bank (now HSBC) rowing club in Putney after being introduced by their friends Natalie and Alan. He had just won a sculling cup of course.
They moved to Mortlake in 1980 (handy for the future club!) and had 3 children- Lawrence (Larry) in 1981, Laura-Jayne in 1984 and Lindsay in 1987.
Ron was a driving force in the move of PTRC from Putney to its current location in Mortlake in 1986, after all avenues for the club remaining in Putney had been exhausted. He blamed Wandsworth council until his dying day for their lack of support in finding a new home when the club outgrew the Dukes Head pub. After the devastating arson attack in 1992 destroyed the single storey building, he and a very small group of members helped rebuild and develop the club into the force it has now become.
An astute and canny coach with traditional values, Ron also helped support and develop many rowing careers at PTRC, from Novices/Juniors to Veterans and everyone in between.
This would have been where most people would have first encountered Ron- from the coaching launch and often the cox’s seat until his longstanding issues with his back meant he was unable to do this.
Dad was instrumental in my joining the club- we used to go down there as a family from a very early age, and some of my earliest memories were playing in the old single storey clubhouse along with other rowers’ children, and helping behind the bar at the age of 5 or so. Perhaps it is no surprise that I ended up running the bar (with his help and others) for 8 years. As a teenager, I finally realised the benefit of formally joining a club where you could go rowing and have a pint of beer afterwards. Different times then! I brought some like-minded friends with me, and a group known as ‘Ron’s Juniors’ was born.
Coached by Ron, Dick Donovan and John Comer amongst others, they were instrumental in forming a nucleus of club members who stayed and thrived at PTRC and picked up other oarsmen along the way, eventually moving from Junior to Novice, and Novice to the Senior Squads.
This group included Ben Melham, Gareth Edwards, Anthony Cooke, Anthony Cake amongst others, all who have played a significant part in the organisation and direction of the club.
Dad’s proudest moment in recent years was seeing PTRC qualify for the Thames Cup at HRR in 2007, for the first time in 40 years- incidentally, also containing his son, and in a boat bearing his name.
I will never forget how happy he was when we qualified, and he finally had someone to cheer on from the Barn Bar on Wednesday of the regatta. The 2nd round is still a work in progress..!
Ron was never happier than when he was with his family and friends, be it at Henley in the old Barn Bar, or on a Thursday club night and on Sunday afternoons at the bar along with Geoff, Simon M, John Comer, Pedal, Alan, their families and others too numerous to mention. He was by no means perfect- and didn’t suffer fools gladly, or those who disagreed with his coaching style! His vices were well known- too much Brakspear/Youngs Ordinary at times, and he could always be relied upon to offer another view at the club AGM, and in particular opposition to those who sought to change the club from what he thought it had always been and should always be- a friendly, competitive club with success at its core.
His passing leaves a hole in our lives, and at PTRC which will be hard to fill.
We still can’t believe he has gone- I still expect to see him wandering in the door, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and the knowledge that I won’t be able to share a beer with him again is a hard one to fathom. I feel sorriest perhaps for his grandson Oscar, and my two sons Alex and Jack, who were just starting to get to know their granddad- and adored him.
We will now never be able to get three generations of Eggletons into a PTRC boat together.
Ron is survived by his siblings Bob and Carol, his wife Angela, and his children Lawrence, Laura-Jayne & Lindsay, and his grandchildren Alex, Jack & Oscar.