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R C Sherriff was an old boy of Kingston Grammar School who, having found considerable success as a playwright and screenwriter, bought the land for the school’s boathouse and helped fund its construction.   Each year the Sherriff Club hosts a fund raising evening in his honour to raise money for the Sherriff Club. This has been anything from a stage production of sketches and songs to a quiz night with fish and chip supper.


This year we staged excerpts from a new play about his life, and specifically the writing of his most famous play, Journey's End, which we hope to be staging in conjunction with the Rose Theatre in 2014 as part of the World War 1 centenary commemorations. We also revealed the final fundraising total from the Sponsored Row, presented prizes to our most successful fundraisers, and screened the wonderful video produced by Ted Parsons. We also, of course, had a fantastic selection of songs with a rowing theme - many of them written this year by our talented rowers.

This year’s Sheriff Night marked something of a departure from previous events. MCs (and Boathouse captains) Robbie Mallett and Ella Barnard explained at the beginning of the evening that the familiar pattern - dramatised excerpts from R C Sherriff’s writing, interspersed with popular songs given a rowing twist - would be taken a step further with the production of an entire musical about love across the sporting divide, between a rower and a hockey player.

On this occasion the Sherriff drama was on the dark side, taken from a movie regarded by critics as one of the best British movies ever made - Odd Man Out - about a terrorist on the run in a big city. The scenes in the first half of the evening were grippingly acted by rowers from the 4th with Ben Cave as Johnny and Fergal Dunn as Nolan particularly strong , although very ably supported by Dougie Carr, Mark Berrow, Chloe Waller and Lydia Cozens. The baton was taken up splendidly in the second half of the evening by 5th Form rowers, including Joao Harrison as the wounded Johnny, and James Stuart, Alex Browning and Lydia Davis as his ne-er do well acquaintances.

The new musical - Blades - featured a cast of 6th Formers, with Lawrence Peirson very persuasive as a rower who couldn’t turn his hand to any other sports, despite the blandishments of his girlfriend Sindy, played - with a very authentic American accent - by Sophie Kenneally. The supporting cast was very strong, but special mention needs to be made of Patrick Beeley - who made a very fetching femme fatale (as bad girl Patty) - and Ali Middleton, Hannah Marsters and Sophie Crocker who did a hilarious turn as KGSBC coaches Phil, Cled and Tim (also written by Ali and Hannah who additionally directed the entire musical production. Songs of the evening included Winter Rowing (Summer Loving), Hopelessly Devoted to Crew ( You, in the original!), and Ergo (Sandy).   

The songs were performed with gusto by the entire cast, including over 80 junior and senior rowers, who also performed an enthusiastic musical tribute - Go Didi, to the tune of Greased Lightning - to the departing Mr Smalman-Smith and his wife, shortly to leave for their epic Atlantic crossing.

The general excitement of the evening was admirably captured by the Head, Mrs Fletcher, who received a resounding ovation for her announcement of the school’s commitment to renovating the Boathouse in the coming year in such spectacular fashion.

Special thanks to Jackie Steinitz for co-ordinating the evening’s music and to the Sherriff Club Committee members who organised such a tempting buffet, and efficient bar!

[Roland Wales]


Sherriff Night and Rowers' Revue 2011


The 6th Annual Sherriff Night and Rowers’ Revue took place in the QE2 Theatre at school on Saturday 9th November.  The format is, by now, familiar:  a medley of raucous rowing songs leavened by examples of the life and work of R C Sherriff - successful playwright, screenwriter and generous benefactor of the Boat Club, and a video review of the rowing year.   A cast of 70 or so enthusiastic rowers filled the stage and the parts, and for the first time they were joined in performance by some courageous KGSBC coaches.  Hosts for the evening were the Boat Club Captains - Lydia Davies and Joao Harrison - who performed their duties with some panache and a lively sense of humour, always an asset on Sherriff Nights.


After the usual entry music from “Dambusters” (probably Sherriff’s best-known film) the audience were brought to life by the Sponsored Row Song - “I Would Row for 40 Miles” (with thanks to the Proclaimers) and its enactment, on office chairs, by rowers of the 3rd Form.  The same 3rd Formers (Beccy Holt, Thomas Sweeney, John Gallop, Jessica Pringle and Tomas Morgan-Young) along with Cameron Spurling, then presented the first dramatic scene of the evening - an account of Sherriff’s initial foray into Hollywood in 1932, writing the screenplay for “The Road Back” (sequel to Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”).  Despite having had minimal rehearsal time, they acquitted themselves remarkably well, with Beccy Holt particularly memorable as a wonderfully haughty Eva Moore and Tomas Morgan-Young as a chippy James Whale - the first of 3 on the night, matched by 3 equally convincing and committed Sherriffs!.


Next up was a cover version of Randy Newman’s song “Short People”.  Written by 5th Former Rob Bern, it pitted stroke siders against bow siders, although singing honours were even on the night.  After the song, the Boat Club’s 4th Form actors (Dylan Baxter, Millie Gibson, Stella van Buren, Joe Hilty and Xander Chevalier) advanced Sherriff’s Hollywood story to 1935, illuminating his troubles with the censors and also with the Nazis, who were trying to bring pressure to bear on the script of “The Road Back”.  Again the actors acquitted themselves very well, with some funny interplay in particular between Dylan Baxter (James Whale) and Joe Hilty (R C Sherriff).  Before the interval there was time for one more song (“Rowing in Sunshine”), a very evocative video produced by Ed Parsons, reveling in KGSBC’s triumphs in the past year, and some words from the Head on the sad occasion of her last Sherriff Night.  In grateful thanks for all her efforts on behalf of rowing and the rowers at the school the Sherriff Club made her a presentation of a framed print of “Pushing Past the Palace”.


After a delicious buffet at the interval the deep bass voice of Paul Robeson (who featured in the James Whale version of “Showboat”) ushered the audience back into the Theatre, where they were promptly confronted with the KGSBC coaches “Busy Doing Nothing” (and so convincingly - almost as if they’ve been practising for years.....!).  After the applause for the coaches had died down, we were again shown examples of the Nazis determination to sabotage Sherriff and Whales’ film.  Strong acting across the board - from Flo Blake-Parson, Issy Dodds, Will Burden, Laurence Millward and Lewis Wales (who receives bonus points for speaking in German) - helped describe the changes that had been forced upon the movie, which we were then able to see projected against the Theatre wall.


As Sherriff and Whale were left licking their wounds, the rowers (with excellent support from coach Cled Ellison) leapt up on stage to perform a cover of a well-known Human League classic (entitled “Don’t You Want Me Cledwyn?”) describing the ongoing battle between coach and rowers for crew selection.   And when the hubbub had died down, the Senior Rowers performed the final drama excerpt of the Night, describing Sherriff’s work in Hollywood in 1940 on Churchill’s favourite movie, “That Hamilton Woman”. Once again the acting (including Toby Smith, Emma Jackson and Rob Bern)was very convincing, but none more so than Ross Simmonds and Romilly Swarbrick as Hollywood’s golden British couple of the 1940s, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.  Ross, in fact, was so confident in his abilities that he even allowed his speech in the character of Nelson to be contrasted with Olivier’s own version from the movie - and the comparison was flattering indeed.


And so, after a final song (“Back in the Bow of the Quad” - with a nod to the Beatles) and a few words from Rowing Master Phil Simmons, the Sherriff Night was over for another year.  Big thanks to all the coaches and rowers who ensured another excellent evening’s entertainment, and to all the parents who helped behind the scenes.  Thanks, too, to Andrew Sim for the excellent photographs which we’ve used throughout the write-up:  many more can be found on the Sherriff Club’s photo-sharing site.



Sherriff Night 2015 was another wonderful quiz and fish and chip evening at the school.  Our quiz masters once again tested the knowledge of the assembled teams in 10 fiercely contested rounds.  A fun night all round.


This year we put on a quiz with a fish and chip supper.  Teams comprising nearly 100 rowers, coaches and parents competed in a number of rounds to test their general knowledge.  Dinner was a delicious fish and chip supper provided by Fish! In Norbiton.