After being in poor health for the last six months, Neil Fryer, 84, died on Thursday January 16th, 2020.
Neil built a successful business career spanning 40 years with Westminster Bank, know known as National Westminster Bank, while engaging in his two lifelong passions of Rowing and Jazz. Neil’s rowing started at school, he then joined Westminster Bank Rowing Club at Putney, where he rose to become the Captain. During this period he represented the club in the Thames Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. He then joined Broxbourne Rowing Club in the early 70s, where, by using his banking business skills, became involved in helping to run the club and start building it up from the very small club it was in the 70s, to the highly successful club of 250 members it is today, with some members going on into the GB squad and attaining World and Olympic fame.
He took on the roles of Coach, Captain, Treasurer, President and finally Senior Trustee. He rowed competitively at the Club for many years. When he finished competing, Neil threw himself full time into coaching and supporting all crews wherever they were competing, in the UK or Overseas. Neil was also the British Rowing Rep for the Eastern Region for many years and a registered Umpire. His involvement and help on the administration and financial side of the club was also invaluable and continued long after stepping down from President in the 90s.
He was an incredible walking encyclopedia of rowing Facts and Figures and the main source of knowledge for hundreds of rowers who would ring him continuously for his amazing retentive memory recall. Not only could he remember who won the The Grand or Thames Cup in any particular year, he would know the individual names of all the crews also.
This unbelievable memory also extended to his other passion, jazz and music generally. One could just hum, or whistle two bars of any tune and he would immediately tell you what the title was plus the artist and lyricist. He played the tenor sax in many jazz groups right up to his death and was very well known by the majority of top jazz musicians in and around the London Jazz scene, including Ronnie Scott and Humphrey Littleton who he was friends with.
Many famous jazz musicians and singers from all around the World come and play at Broxbourne Rowing Club’s “Jazz at The Boathouse” sessions that Neil organised and put on once per month for many years. Dedicated jazz followers would come miles to listen to the top musicians at a little rowing club on the banks of the River Lea in Hertfordshire. Neil will be missed by his family and friends, plus all those rowers that regularly want facts and figures from yesteryear.
He also drove in the equivalent of the British Touring Cars, against Jim Clark and counted the legends as friends, including Colin Chapman and Bob Dance of Lotus, Eric and Graham Broadley from Lola.
Neil’s Funeral will be on Tuesday 18th Feb at 2pm at Woolensbrook Crematorium, Hoddesdon EN11 9BN and then at Broxbourne Rowing Club.