Unveiling of The Francis King Family

SPCBC is proud to announce that we unveiled our new Hudson 8+, The Francis King Familyon the Isis on Sunday, April the 27th 2014. The boat is named in honour of Francis King, a most dedicated rower, supporter, spokesman, coach, mentor, confidant and friend to many generations of Peterites. It was Francis’ own wish to honour his whole family with the naming of this boat, also commemorating his Father Noel King.

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The boat was presented to the Kings in a ceremony attended by the Master of St Peter’s College, Mark Damazer, old friends of Francis from his days as a rower, friends from his years as a coach, and many active rowers and supporters of the boat club. In his speech, the Master acknowledged Francis’ many years of support for the boat club and was confident that the boat carrying Francis name will be a good reason for it to do well. The Master also pointed out that this boat purchase was made possible through the ongoing support of a strong alumni community of the boat club, who had collectively contributed the funds necessary.

After the Masters words, the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, who had rowed with Francis in the St Peter’s School’s Eight in 1969 performed the blessing of the boat with these words:

“God of energy and life, of wind and water, of design and construction, we thank you for the raw satisfaction of rowing, the camaraderie, the competition, the elation, the consolation. We give thanks for the dedication of those who coach, support and encourage, particularly this day we give thanks to Francis, friend and enthusiast through many years and much weather. Bless then this boat ‘The Francis King Family’; may it generate much fun, honest sweat and notable victories as we dedicate it to St Peter and to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

The boat was blessed with Champagne at the bows and water from the the finish line which is a St Peter’s tradition. After the naming, Francis recalled memories from his years as a St Peter’s rower and coach, saying that the boat club can also be seen as a family, “we are all in this together”. 

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Francis King, O.B.E., came up to St. Peter’s in October 1966 from Southwell Minster Grammar School to study Theology. He began rowing in his first term and was a member of the 1st Eight at the end of the academic year. In his second year at SPC, he was Secretary of Boats and rowed in the 1st Torpid and 1st Eight. He took his B.A. in Theology in August 1969, staying on at SPC for another year to take a Certificate in Education. In 1969 he also rowed in the Schools Eight with John Pritchard, now Bishop of Oxford. He had a career at the British Council before returning to Oxford upon his retirement. He then took up coaching the SPBC Lower Eights from 2006-2012. Francis suffered a stroke in 2010. Members of St. Peter’s Boat Club organized a charity ergathon to support the Stroke Association, raising just over £3,000.

Noel King came to St Peter’s in 1941 to read a Shortened Honours Course in Modern History, in the knowledge that he would have to leave after a year for military service. He left at the end of Trinity Term 1942 to join the army. In 1943 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps (Airborne Division).
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