The late President of our London friends has passed away. For those that knew him, this news is exceptionally sad, as Peter Sly was such a key part to our partnership with Cygnet Rowing Club.
Peter was a gentleman. Whoever met him commented on his imposing stature, as well as his larger than life gestures and facial expressions. One of my earliest memories is from the 70s: with his enormous hat and his cigar he was “The Godfather“ incarnate.
Peter Sly was a patriarch. I have a vivid memory from 10 years ago during a visit to Henley Regatta how Peter came down from his house above the Thames in order to greet the throng of visitors assembled on the patio by the river.
Peter Sly was a force for our integration and not just for members from his own club. He was always concerned about the Benrath rowers and their safe journeys while the UK. Through these acts of kindness both Peter and his wife Pat showed enormous hospitality.
These memories and descriptions of him can barely scratch the surface in describing the fond memories many of us hold for this gentleman, some of us as a result of over 50 years of his friendship with RG Benrath. He himself took great joy in this partnership between the clubs, a good example coming from his congratulatory speech for our 75th anniversary when he said: “Many lasting friendships have been made, although there have so far been no marriages!“. You could see him smiling when he said that. He also gave us occasion to smile a lot, for example through his speech to RG Benrath in German.
The older “Head“ competitors from Benrath will remember the “After Head Regatta“ at Peter’s house in Henley. From the 80s Peter was often in Benrath with his wife Pat, his children Prudence and Oscar as well as his mother-in-law (Peter couldn’t really pronounce the German for Mother-in-Law, *Schwiegermutter). Benrathers were always welcome as guests of Peter and Pat when they visited the Thames. And in 2005 we were lucky to enjoy this on a grand scale again at a big party in Peter’s garden by the banks of the Thames for the 40th anniversary celebration of the two club’s partnership.
Thank you, Peter. We shall not forget you.
Ferdi Picker, March 2015
(Translated from the original German by former Cygnet Captain Rob Henderson)Author: Neil Pickford