Slideshw: Bat race funders launched

PUBLISHED: 15:54 11 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:01 03 May 2010

The winning Cambridge crew.

The winning Cambridge crew.

THE Bat Race Funders Sciety was fficially launched at Ely Cathedral n Saturday. A grup f 14 funder members gathered in the suth west transept after a special Evensng service cmmemrating the effrts f Harrw schl friends Charles Merivale and

THE Bat Race Funders Sciety was fficially launched at Ely Cathedral n Saturday. A grup f 14 funder members gathered in the suth west transept after a special Evensng service cmmemrating the effrts f Harrw schl friends Charles Merivale and Charles Wrdswrth in prviding the inspiratin fr the first Oxfrd and Cambridge Bat Race in 1829.

"The race is nw famus thrughut the wrld but we were cncerned that the rigins, especially the cntributin f the funders and their riginal aims, were likely t be lst in an increasingly cmmercial envirnment," said Jack Waterfall, wh was cnfirmed as chairman f the rganisatin. It will nw take every pprtunity t celebrate the lives and achievements f the race funders.

Saturday was the bicentenary f the birth f Charles Merivale, wh went n t becme the Dean f Ely frm 1869 t 1893. The present Dean, the Very Rev Dr Michael Chandler, laid a wreath n his grave in Ely Cemetery during a cach tur with members f the Merivale and Wrdswrth families n Sunday.

With him was the Rt Rev Michael Hare-Duke, wh, like Charles Wrdswrth, is a frmer Bishp f St Andrew's in Sctland. Wrdswrth, a nephew f the pet William Wrdswrth, was bishp fr 40 years frm1852.

Earlier in the celebratin weekend, the families f the tw Bat Race funders had prvided crew members fr a race n the Great Ouse between gigs mdelled n the successful Oxfrd bat f 1829.

The Cambridge bat, featuring fur Merivale family members, wn the race befre a plaque was unveiled near the river in Jubilee Gardens cmmemrating the Bat Race funders.

The gig was later taken t Ely Cathedral, accmpanied by perid cycles prvided by members f the March Veteran and Vintage Cycle Club in Victrian dress. The bat was the main exhibit in an exhibitin and was mved t Oliver Crmwell's Huse n Tuesday. Then, at Easter, it will transfer t Ely Museum in the histric Bishp's Gal in Market Street and will be at the centre f a Bat Race Bash n Saturday, March 29 when the draw will be made in a raffle fr the mayr's charity.

The exhibitin includes bards frm the River and Rwing Museum at Henley, telling the stry f the bat race, as well as Merivale and Wrdswrth family trees.

Members f the tw families als attended a supper in the Cathedral Lady Chapel n Saturday with the mayr and mayress f Ely, Cllr Rn Bradney and his wife Kathy, and the deputy mayr f Cambridge, Cllr Mike Dixn. Speeches were made by the Rev Jeremy Wrdswrth and the Rev Christian Merivale.

Jack Waterfall said f the event, "It was highly successful and judging frm the emails I have received peple were tickled pink at the hspitality they received and Ely itself.

"I think the real buzz f the event was bringing the tw families tgether as many f them had never met each ther befre. Everything went well n the day and a gd time was had by all."

Phts: SUPPLIED and GEOFF DURRANT

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