Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE, 4 Olympic Gold Medals, 10 World Championship Gold Medals, a fine chap indeed, and someone who can be relied upon to deal with a tricky situation with a certain aplomb…!
I’d been messaging Sir Matthew Pinsent for a while, to have such a true sporting legend associated with the Charity Oars and our campaign could only be a positive. To try and find time in his schedule was always going to be a tricky thing, the man never seems to stop….! Then up came this years Royal Henley Regatta, he would be there, I could get there, what could possibly go wrong?
Some good friends of the Charity Oars very kindly invited us to the Stewards Enclosure, suitably attired, hood down on the car on such a sunny day and off we headed to Royal Henley Regatta 2015. Now, lets just say finding parking is tricky, luckily for yours truly there’s a cricket ground nearby, a couple of cheeky calls on the way, eh voila, parking sorted…!
Now as I said, it was a hot day, I was driving and I had work to do. So I hobbled with my dodgy leg towards the Stewards Enclosure, checked my tie was done up, top button done up, jacket on, phone off, so I walked towards the entrance, me, dressed accordingly, a briefcase, and 2 eight feet wooden oars with lots of signatures; “good morning I said, smiled nicely, walked into the enclosure….” Dare I undo my top button now? No Paul, enjoy the day, lets not cause a scene.
What a beautiful setting, and what a wonderful atmosphere. It was wonderful to be there and to be part of such an historic event. So off I went, found a comfy chair in the shade, ordered a coffee and some chilled water, handed over a handsome amount of the Queens currency and took in the atmosphere.
A quick message to Matthew, saying “HI Matthew, am here enjoying the days rowing. Let me know when it would be convenient to catch up, look forward to chatting later” (it’s OK to text in the Stewards enclosure by the way). In a way it was actually nice not having the phone ringing away all of the time, and to be able to listen to what’s going on and to enjoy the day. A reply came through “can we meet at 6pm?” No worries thought I, gives me 3 hours to sit down, do some charity work for Thrombosis UK, Charity Oars and for my Committee work for NICE.
A gentle stroll around the enclosure, smiling at anyone and everyone, caught a brief glimpse of Sir Steve Redgrave running past, a cheery “Hello…..!!” was sent in his direction, I even got a cheery wave and smile back.
So this is where things went a little bit awry. I found a lovely spot in the shade, 3 hours until we meet Sir Matthew Pinsent, read various documents, write a few words, relax, meet Matthew, have a chat, get the Charity Oars signed, offer my thanks, head to the car, drive home, day complete and successful.
“What are THOSE..!…?” I looked up, “I repeat, what are THOSE?”
“What are they doing IN HERE…!..?”
“Oars at a Regatta?” I questioned, politely, a little bit confused.
“As I said, what are they doing in here?”
“We’re here to meet Sir Matthew Pinsent, he’s kindly offered to sign the Charity Oars …… ” I continued speaking as the chap in the hat strode off with these wonderful words filling the air … “we shall just see about this story shan’t we..!”
Well I did say it went a bit awry. Suffice to say Mathew was summoned down to vouch for my faux pas.
As the Steward continued with his concern that I appeared to have committed something akin to having not stood during the National Anthem, I had to laugh as Matthew did say “well he couldn’t have smuggled them in could he?”.
Well Matthew kindly assured the Steward that I had genuinely just walked in with the Charity Oars and lap top and that I had meant no direct insult to the history of the Royal Henley Regatta.
I was able to get a very quick photo of the Olympic legend and he also very kindly signed the Charity Oars, I was then escorted from the Stewards Enclosure, all just a little bit bemused.
This all happened in July, I now hope enough time has passed so that Matthew won’t send the Queens Cavalry to Cambridgeshire to have me arrested for treason. On the plus side, it has made a wonderful after dinner tale.
For my part, I would like to thank Matthew so much for his time during such an important event, I was more than willing to wait until 6pm to meet him. Maybe next time we meet we can have a chat about our campaign, until then, sincere apologies for any distress that was caused, but thank you for your time and for your intervention with the Steward.