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Teacher and legendary coach inspired hundreds of rowers

January 21st, 2021
John Hartland (second left) with his children Kate Callaghan (left) and Nick Hartland (far right) and rowing coach Robin Williams during a schools’ event in 2012

A former schoolteacher and coach, who inspired hundreds of children to take up rowing in Monmouth and beyond, has died at the age of 84.

John Hartland was Master in Charge of Rowing at Monmouth School for Boys from 1964 to 1996 and founded Monmouth School for Girls Rowing Club in 1992.

Mr Hartland, who died yesterday (Wednesday 20th January) four days short of his 85th birthday, was primarily one of the school’s two PE teachers, with Economics as his second subject. He was also a past Housemaster of Town House.

As head of Welsh Rowing, Mr Hartland, who was widely respected, led the rowing team to the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

His daughter, Mrs Kate Callaghan, is the current Head of Rowing at Monmouth School for Girls.

In March 2019, former Great Britain rower Annabel Vernon, who won a silver medal with the women’s quad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, unveiled a new Haberdashers’ John Hartland Hudson VIII boat.

Annabel was the special guest as current and former rowers at Monmouth School for Girls gathered in honour of Mr Hartland to share countless memories and stories of their mentor.

Mr Hartland’s wife, Ann Hartland, christened a fabulous new John W Hartland boat, in honour of her husband, at Monmouth School for Boys Rowing Club a month later, in April 2019.

Mrs Callaghan said: “Dad spent nearly the whole of his life messing about on the river as a rower and coach, something brought home to us when we recently found a little cup dated 1948, engraved with his name as a cox, which he won at Southampton Regatta as a 12-year-old.

“Once he got the rowing bug after following his brother Brent to Southampton ARC, it became his lifelong passion, going on to row at Loughborough University before moving to Hereford with our mum Ann, where he coached at Whitecross School and rowed at Hereford RC, and then Monmouth School for Boys where he was Master in Charge of Rowing, before later founding Monmouth School for Girls Rowing Club.”

Mr Hartland served as chairman of Monmouth Rowing Club, where he helped acquire the current boathouse in 1969 and drove the successful Lottery application to extend the club in 1996 and as regatta secretary, where he helped turn the event into the biggest one-day regatta in the UK in its heyday.

He was a divisional rep on the old ARA, chairman of the Welsh Rowing Council, a driving force in establishing the Home Countries Regatta.

The John Hartland Trophy donated by Welsh Rowing in 2018 is now competed for by the junior men’s teams.

His son, Nick Hartland, a local journalist, passionate rower and an ambassador for the sport, said: “Me, Kate and Jim were among the hundreds, perhaps thousands, he taught to row.

“But while some of his charges went on to win world and even Olympic medals, he took just as much pleasure in teaching the less able among us to learn how to enjoy the pleasure of simply moving a boat. The Wye flowed through his veins and his influence will flow on for many years to come.”

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