Stroud youngster makes history as part of Diamond Jubilee flotilla
By Hayley Mortimer
TEENAGER Luke Pritchard helped to make history when he took part in the Diamond Jubilee river pageant.
Luke, 15, of Whiteshill, joined members of his rowing club in one of the largest flotillas in history.
He said: "It was a truly amazing, once in a lifetime experience, going past all the famous landmarks and being right in the middle of it all."
The Gloucester Rowing Club was invited to join the convoy of around 1,000 vessels in the seven-mile pageant on the River Thames on Sunday, June 3.
The club, which has over 200 members, picked 12 people to take part in the flotilla and Luke was one of the youngest.
Luke, a student at The Crypt School, Gloucester, said: "Going past the Houses of Parliament was my highlight. It was amazing seeing all the people, the banks were full.
"Our boat was about half of the river away from the Royal Barge but I got a good view of the Queen."
Luke added: "The boat was one of the fastest out there, making it hard to stay slow. It was very hectic."
The club was rowing the Old Balliol, one of two replicas of the boat used by Oxford University in the first Oxford and Cambridge race in 1829.
The team picked up the boat from its home in Eton and towed it to Richmond where they embarked on their journey down the Thames.
Luke, who joined the rowing club two years ago, said: "We had just gone through Tower Bridge when the heavens opened. We were soaking wet. But it was still brilliant despite the weather."
The other rowers were Will Brown, Zara Cottrill, Toby Venn, Dan Brawn, Tim Barnett, Ed Surman, Ben Rodford, Brian Nelson, Mark Venn, Jon Garner and Beth Rodford.
Gloucester Rowing Club is one of the oldest rowing clubs in Britain and is based on the Sharpness-Gloucester canal.
They are raising money to build a new £1.5 million boathouse in Gloucester with a large clubhouse for all the members. So far they have raised £184,439 and have received much support from businesses in Gloucestershire.
For more information or to make a donation visit www.gloucester-rowing.org