Vale Kevin Hollingworth

Published Tue 30 Jan 2024

Kevin contracted poliomyelitis when he was one year old. The virus caused severe weakness/paralysis in Kevin’s legs that he lived with all his life. An enduring image of the 60s and 70s is of Kevin manoeuvering himself into the coxswain’s seat of a boat as he leaves his crutches on the pontoon.

Why did Kevin take up rowing? He used to race motorbikes with sidecar and was very successful winning numerous races. But one fateful day he had a road accident on his motorbike with sidecar. He then lost his nerve on the racetrack; at 180kmh there is no margin for error. So what to do next? His sidecar passenger had taken up rowing by this stage and suggested that Kevin try the sport as most boats were coxed at this time.

He started his career at Haberfield Rowing Club. In 1964 he steered the Lightweight Maiden Four consisting of G. Richards, M Barnard, R Hewett and C Ogilvie with Steve Roll as coach. The crew had success at Mosman, Leichhardt and Nepean regattas in that year. During his time at Haberfield RC he also steered other crews to victory. Membership at HRC fell away and steering opportunities lessened. He then joined Leichhardt RC where again he had numerous successes.

In the late 1960s he was encouraged to join Sydney Rowing Club. Bob Stone was coaching at SRC and encouraged Kevin to make the move. Bob knew of Kevin’s ability to cox a crew to win. At the same time the 1967 NSW Women’s State crew was looking for a coxswain. As Kevin had also coxed women’s club crews, he was selected to cox the 1967 Women’s State crew. The crew won and Kevin was on his way to being recognised for his ability. He was then selected to steer the 1968 NSW State Men’s Lightweight Four with cox (Pat Hannan, Ian Carmody, Robert Tagg, Denis Carmody with Bob Stone as coach) at the King’s Cup Interstate Regatta at Penrith 1968 and then the 1969 NSW Men’s State Lightweight Four with cox (Ian Carmody, Robeert Powell, Robert Tagg, Denis Carmody. Coach: Bob Stone) at the King’s Cup Interstate Regatta, Bundaberg, Qld. In both years these NSW crews won the Lightweight Four Interstate race for the Penrith Cup.

During his time at Sydney Rowing Club Kevin also served on the club committee.

In 1969 the Sydney Rowing Club Lightweight Four of Bob Tagg, Ian Carmody, Denis Carmody and Graham Williams with Kevin as cox and Bob Stone as coach toured both islands of New Zealand and competed at numerous regattas. During this tour the Sydney Lightweight Four were unbeaten in all lightweight events.

He also coxed NSW Women’s Interstate Crews in 1974 and in 1977. In 1977 Kevin coxed the NSW   Women’s Lightweight and Heavyweight State Fours - both crews crossed the line first.

Another highlight of Kevin’s rowing career was the unexpected success of the SRC Junior men’s crew put together by Alan Callaway (Senior Coach at SRC) at short notice to race at the Nationals in Tasmania in 1978. This success once again showcased Kevin’s ability to instill confidence, belief and trust in any crew he was involved with as well as his mastery of race strategy.

In 2019 the Bundaberg Rowing Club celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1969 King’s Cup Interstate Regatta which had been held at Bundaberg. The club invited all crews who participated at that regatta to this event. Kevin made the trip to Bundaberg and the organisers arranged for Kevin to cox the 1969 Queensland King’s Cup Eight. They also organized for helpers to get Kevin in the wheelchair down the bank and into the stern of the boat. The crew did a rowpast and Kevin was transformed back to his competitive rowing days – a time that had given him much enjoyment and camaraderie.

The last rowing event Kevin attended was the SRC 150th Anniversary Dinner in October 2022, put back by Covid, where he reminisced with his former colleagues in rowing.

Kevin’s funeral will be held Wednesday 7 February 2024 at St Brigid’s Catholic Church Dubbo at 2pm. The service will be live streamed through the church’s website followed by a private cremation.

If you wish to view the service please enter the following URL into a search engine

 The church does keep its services on its website at least for a couple weeks.

RIP Kevin.

Libby Hollingworth and Lydia Miladinovic