‘The 1948 Olympics were very amateur, very pleasant’
In 1948, we won the first heat, then went straight through to the
semi-finals against Canada and Norway. We won that, and that put us
into the final in which we met the USA, represented by the University of
California. There was no challenge from the Germans just after the war; and the
Russians, of course, were not there. It was very amateur and pleasant.
The 1948 Games cost £170,000 for the whole thing. It was
very much a quick decision, agreed the year before. There had been no games in
’40 or ’44. I can see why getting the Olympics is probably a good thing, its
great prestige. But it’s an awful responsibility, and outlay of cash.
I didn’t feel happy sculling last Sunday at Monkton Combe.
It’s probably the last time. The equipment didn’t suit me. It’s about the angle
of the oars as they enter the water. If you put your weight on them without it
being exactly right, before you know where you are, you are in the drink. You
need to exercise caution.
I came from an Evangelical background. I still attend a
church in Tavistock. It’s got a strong tradition of Bible-based ministry. It’s
a mix of inspirational worship based on the Anglican service, and the
congregation is growing. I don’t believe the Church is losing ground.
I feel like Elijah, “I, only I, am left.” My contemporaries
have left, gone on before, to something greater. But there’s another
generation. I look forward to being a great grandfather soon. One of my
daughters is working with Emmanuel International, a kind of Canadian Tear Fund
in Tanzania. The other is married to a farmer in Devon. My son is a teacher in
Shrewsbury; a grandson is a great oarsman, he is rowing for the J15s.
I remember hearing my grandfather talk about CMS and the Quetta
earthquake. He was a vicar in a church in Shaftesbury. The seeds were
planted then. And there was scouting, helping the less fortunate, and there was
a sense of noblesse oblige. I was nearly shot down by a Japanese Zero fighter.
When I got back to the carrier I felt I had been “saved to serve”.
The most important choice was meeting my wife, Margaret.
She was the daughter of a missionary in Kenya. We had both been praying about
our meeting before we met. When we met we got engaged after a week. I always
liked languages and so did she. Margaret’s father was responsible for the Union
version of the Swahili Bible.
I am reading the Folio Society’s four-volume history of England
. I just did the Tudor period before, but now I have discovered the
Middle Ages: John of Gaunt and Edward III. I like historical novels, they catch
the atmosphere of the period. I used to read Margaret Irwin.
I would like to be remembered as a missionary, someone who
helped plant the gospel. The excitement of opening up the gospel for the first
time to a group of people. Knowing I was doing God’s will.
I remember talking to one young man who said, ‘I have heard
the name of Jesus, but I don’t know anything about him.’
I would call my autobiography Managing Without. The
secretary to CMS, Mike Warren, was ahead of his time. He wanted us to integrate
with the people we were going to, but not lose our identity. I was willing to
accept their way of life.
My favourite text is “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”
Not to worry about the future. He certainly did fill up our cup, Psalm 23. And
2 Corinthians 4: “We preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus our lord and
ourselves as your servants for Christ’s sake.” We were challenged to learn to
be servants in Kenya when the new government was taking over.
I get annoyed about the way people in this country seem to
blame others for their own mistakes. The faces you see on TV — they are angry
and unforgiving for anything done against them.
I am happiest in trying to serve others. I take the
occasional service. I find gardening therapeutic. I am happy when I create
things: garden furniture, growing crops.
I drink fair-trade tea, coffee and occasionally Green’s
I still have a canoe. I walk every week on Dartmoor, and
swim in the local pool.
Bishop Obadiah ordained me at what was then Fort Hall, now
called Mount Kenya, in 1961. He challenged me about my pride. Not every African
could say to a European: “You are too proud.”