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Cygnet Rowing Club
on the Tideway since 1890
CSSC Sports and Leisure

Ian Stephenson

6th September 2019

Ian Stephenson 

1966 - 2019

Ian Stephenson passed away on Friday 30th August following a long and hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 53.

Ian, known to most of his Cygnet friends as Geordie, started his rowing career at Cambois Rowing Club in Northumberland, a few miles from his hometown of Morpeth. Having migrated south, he joined Cygnet for two years in 1988 before returning in 1997 via Curlew RC and Staines BC. On his return, he rowed in the Cygnet Thames Cup VIII at Henley Royal that year and remained a stalwart of Cygnet crews until 2013, when he slipped up-river to join the Quintin BC Veterans 'Barflies". Geordie continued rowing with Quintin throughout his treatment, only stopping in July, just a couple of months before his untimely death.

During his time with Cygnet, Geordie spent almost as much time at the bar as he did in a boat - and he was in a boat a lot - often combining the two activities, seemingly without ill-effect, as his collection of pewter will attest to. In retrospect, it may have been his fondness for socialising that accounts for his notorious reputation of always being late for outings, despite moving closer to the club.

Even after he stopped rowing for Cygnet and in a true demonstration of the club adage 'Nobody ever leaves', he could still often be found at the bar, getting a round in and talking to anyone that would listen; about the Glory Days; fishing; his latest eBay bargain; or his beloved Toon. Perhaps drawn there because it was in the boathouse bar where a particular Barnes Bridge Lady caught his eye and it wasn't long before yet another boathouse 'tradition' was being observed: Geordie and T's Wedding in September 2008 was well attended by members of both Cygnet and BBLRC.

During the early 'noughties' Geordie joined the Cygnet Committee as Social Secretary. This position combined his love of rowing and socialising and also formalised, for a while, his role as organiser of unconventional club events. These included an infamous and dangerously enormous bonfire one November, complete with a Guy made from kit abandoned in the changing rooms; an inter-club welly-wanging competition during Club Day; and the inception of the Cygnet darts team - which won its only match against the local pub team. He is also responsible for the gallon pewter tankard in the bar, from which many a-winning crew was required to take their victory drink - hard work for those winning in singles and pairs, much to Geordie's amusement!

There'll be very few people indeed that didn't like or get on with Geordie. Row hard, play hard appeared to be his philosophy yet he was a man who tried not to take life or himself too seriously. He was as comfortable taking the rise out of the venerable older members as he was the new novices, his closest friends or himself. And he had a lot of friends, most of whom will remember him as the unconventionally dressed northern bloke in the tight jeans and well-worn Led Zeppelin T-shirt, with a beer in his hand and a heart as big as his hair. His generosity knew no bounds and he will be sorely missed all along the Thames Tideway.

He is survived by his wife Tracey and young son, George to whom we extend our sincerest condolences.

Marjorie Israel & Neil Pickford, 6th September 2019

Ian's funeral will take place on Friday 20th September at 12:40 at Mortlake Crematorium, with a wake after at Mortlake Anglian & Alpha Boat Club. There is no dress code and faded rock band tee-shirts are optional! Please leave a message on Ian's Facebook page if you intend to be there. Failing that, please post a comment here and we will pass the message on for you.

Geordie comp

Author: Neil Pickford


Was so sorry to hear about my friend Ian, we first met during Freshers week at Uni all those years ago. He was living in his car while his accommodation got sorted. He asked if I wanted to have a look at his new gaff with such natural enthusiasm that I found myself following this man I'd just met into an empty basement flat with no power in an otherwise empty street. Any qualms wore off quickly, he was a complete gentleman. This was confirmed for me several times but none so more so than having just been sick outside the student union bar, he offered me the sleeve of his coat to clean myself up with, all the while being turned slightly away and keeping his eyes averted from my sorry state. Theres loads I could write about him but these were the first memories I had of that lovely man, an all round good egg. Condolences and thoughts to all his family and friends, especially his wife & son

Bernie O'Connor - 05th December 2019 at 6:21pm

So sad to learn of Ian's passing. He was truly one of life's bright lights, a loyal friend and a lot of fun to be around. We shared lives and experiences through our Greenwich Uni years (1990 - 94), a time he inspired many a fellow student to take up rowing and socialising in equal measure. He could trounce all of us on both fronts. These were the days of lingering glam rock, grunge, raves, cramming late uni assignments, weekend parties and, for Ian, heading out at dawn to row on the river. Ian will forever live on in our hearts and memories for the special person he was. I now live in New Zealand and here, the highest accolade is to be known as a 'good bastard'. Well, along with our other uni mates, I can testify that Ian was all of that. My thoughts and prayers to his wife and son. Forever, Pals.

Rob Hart - 05th December 2019 at 4:13am

Stevo as we fondly called him at work was the finest bloke I ever met. Great guy! God rest his soul and bless his family.

Robert Otim - 30th September 2019 at 7:13pm

Knew "Biffa" from Curlew RC and were at same Uni. He rocked up at our house in Weybridge one evening soaking wet insisting we go for a beer with him. The reason he was wet was he had dropped his phone in the river crossing from the Cygnet bungalow by rowing boat. He was pleased he found is phone but later in the pub the phone heated up in his pocket and scolded his leg, he was still hoping it might be OK, that was Biffa always optimistic. We had some laughs at uni and at the RC.

Gail Robinson - 17th September 2019 at 8:45pm

I remember the bollocking Jenny gave him after he'd decided a drunken wrestle might be fun and managed to pull my arm out of its socket. "How will you pick up the baby with one arm?". I think he was still in the bad books a decade later.

David Wright - 09th September 2019 at 4:40pm

My heart felt condolences to his young son and wife. We would miss him in the noise team here in RBKC

Obi Akude - 09th September 2019 at 8:47am

I've still not forgiven him for making me down a pint of Pride before a race at BMI about 15 years ago. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth about 1/3 way down the course - which he found hilarious naturally!

Neil Pickford - 07th September 2019 at 5:02pm

Top obituary - you have caught Geordie to a tee!! I was also particularly fond of hearing about his skip diving triumphs - a really lovely bloke!!

Ruth Wilson - 07th September 2019 at 1:07pm

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