New rowing award preserves great rowing legacy

Jan. 29, 2015

A chance meeting in Starbucks led Saanichton resident Martin Thomas to resolve his long held desire to thoughtfully preserve his grandfather’s great rowing legacy.

Overhearing Matthuw (a fundraiser for athletics buildings and programs at UVic) talking about scholarships for student athletes gave him an idea for the perfect opportunity. Although Martin was only two years old when his grandfather, Albert Edward Thomas died, he’s always been aware of Albert’s strong belief in the two foundations of a successful life:

“It’s evident in the way he lived his life that education and sport, or active living, were very important to him. He was a dentist, and an astute business man, but he was most widely known for his rowing achievements.”

Martin determined that one of the most prestigious trophies from his grandfather's collection would gain a new home at the University of Victoria as way to honour Albert. After chatting with men’s coach Aalbert Van Schothorst, Martin and his wife decided that establishing an award for rowers with the highest academic standing, echoed perfectly with his grandfather’s strong belief in sport and education.

The trophy that will be presented to the award recipient commemorates Albert's victory in the Wirral Challenge Cup at Chester Regatta in 1912. The Chester Regatta was first held in 1733 (over 280 years ago) and is generally accepted as the oldest rowing regatta of its type in the world. The Wirral Challenge Cup was first awarded in 1873 and continues to be awarded to this day. 

The Thomas family is also donating funds to create keeper trophies for the award winners, but hope that in the future the award will also provide some financial support for students’ tuition.