Issue 105 - February 1998
John Broadhurst, aged 55, has an Instructors Award for coaching. He probably has not been able to find the time to take the bronze, silver or gold, but many youngsters and parents in Oxford probably think he is worth his weight in the latter.
Broadhurst learnt his rowing at St Edwards and subsequently rowed with success for Wallingford RC between 1963 and 1965. Marriage, the appearance of three daughters and business then took over, although John did find time to take his umpire's exam in 1966, 'just to help out the club because they were short of officials for the regatta.' St Edwards came to bless him again when, in the 1970s and 1980s, he was the king pin in running a number of balls to raise money for boats.
Then the bombshell. In September 1991, when his youngest daughter, Jessica, was in the lower sixth at Headington School, they had a pep talk about various sports. Rowing was mentioned, even though the school had no boat club. Jessica and 15 other girls opted for the river and went to City of Oxford RC to be introduced to the sport by Hilary Davis. Broadhurst used to go for a run during the sessions until, a month later, Davis asked if any parents could help. Broadhurst and Tom Collins, another parent, put up their hands and that was that.
Numbers increased, and with John, Tom and Hilary working hard, Headington School had an eight and a four in the Schools Head the following March. It was a strange scenario, with the school largely standing back and leaving it to Broadhurst and his helpers to borrow boats, arrange transport and find coaches. One of these was another parent, Graham Orriss, a former captain of Kingston, who inspired a group of junior 14s to a silver medal in the 1994 national championships. Many of this group having gone on since to international honours.
In 1994 the school took more interest. A management committee was formed and Broadhurst, who was regularly spending ten hours a weekend coaching the novices, was made chairman. With a business to run, his wife, Peta, was highly supportive 'although she became fed up with the hurdles.' The hurdles were equipment, introducing a sport to a school which did not understand it and having juniors out on the Isis amongst a mass of college and club seniors.
Broadhurst has addressed all three in addition to the coaching. Courtesy of Sportsmatch and Michael Roberts of FBM Marine, Headington now has 35 boats, many purpose built small craft. The school responded and have, since 1995, employed top female coaches Toddy Russ and Cathy Partridge, and Headington have left the crowded Isis to be tenants at John's old school boathouse at St Edwards.
International honours, GB, Coupe and England, have come to Headington girls in the last three years, quite a quick baptism for a new set-up and a credit to Broadhurst, Davis and Collins. Last month Headington School transferred the responsibility of rowing to the PE department, although Broadhurst will still be coaching every weekend but this will be added to since he has, in the last year, started the Hinksey Sculling School in Oxford for youngsters from the area. Again helped by Davis and Collins, and supported by the City Council, they have currently ten youngsters, all under ten and from non-rowing schools, using some of the Headington boats. John Broadhurst's award comprises wet-weather clothing by courtesy of Lombard, sponsors of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent
© Copyright Regatta Magazine, 1998.
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