Bernard Henry Memorial Lunch & Boat Naming

Published on
Monday 26 August 2013
College & Community

WCBC has recently bought its first single scull with money raised by the boat club alumni, and named the boat after Bernard. The naming ceremony was held on the lawns overlooking the punt harbour at Wolfson. Nanda Pirie recounted Bernard's life and contributions to the Boat Club before the unveiling began, with Mark Pottle revealing the name, and Cliff Sofield pouring champagne over the bow to christen Wolfson's first single “Bernard Henry II”.

Bernard Henry joined Wolfson College in 1998, as a post-doc in Materials. It was the great good fortune of the boat club that two of the Women's First VIII met him at dinner that first term and realised something special, recruiting him instantly for the boat club. By the following year he was coaching the University cricket team, Women's rugby, Athletics - practically all the top University sports were queuing up to get him involved. But, typical of Bernard, he remained loyal to WCBC throughout.

In reflections about Bernard a Wolfson rower said:  “When I first met you, I knew nothing about fitness, rowing or running. You were endlessly encouraging, helpful and supportive. As I reflect back, some ten years on, I realised that what you helped give me was some degree of confidence that was greatly lacking. Schools should do far more to convey the value of sport to their kids.”

In practical terms, the first thing that Bernard did for WCBC was to come down and shake up our circuits - eventually producing the programme we have now. It is excellent - designed both to be accessible to new people, who want to build up fitness, but also providing a framework within which the senior athletes can really push themselves.

That epitomized Bernard's outlook. He believed in ‘sport for all'. Whatever the level, if you were serious, he took you seriously. It is something we've always done well in WCBC, and probably one reason he was so loyal to us; we shared his philosophy that sport is not just for the elite. Long may that attitude continue in our club.

It is very fitting naming our first single for Bernard, he would have liked that: not one of the elite boats but something everyone can use and learn from.

WCBC would like to thank all of the members of the boat club, both past and present, and particularly those who donated money in memory of Bernard Henry.

Report by Katherine Henson, Wolfson College Boat Club President 2012-2013