Pauline was a GB athlete, FISA umpire, and an exceptional sports administrator.
Pauline’s name first appears as the Hon. Secretary in the HORR programme for 1973. By this time she had already become involved as back-up to her husband Bernard, who by then had been the Hon. Treasurer for about four years. The story of her appointment was that the Race had suddenly found itself without a Secretary, and the then-Chairman had rung to ask Bernard to ask Pauline if she would step in. Bernard reported the conversation to Pauline, adding “I said you’d do it”.
In that year, there were 337 entries. In the years immediately following numbers grew quickly, and older oarsmen will recall 1979 – “the sinking race” – when 15 crews of 420 did not finish. After the 1978 Race it had been agreed to impose that maximum (including a quota of overseas entries), on the understanding that some 5% would not start. Pauline was of course deeply involved in devising this modus operandi, and then the administration of the entry criteria.
As this was well before the internet – let alone online entry – the amount of paper flowing in and out of the Churcher home in Kew was remarkable. Pauline’s administration of every aspect was always timely and accurate, with cut-off times and limits all applied firmly but fairly. This annual process culminated in the issue of 420 metal bow numbers from the Thames RC gym in the 48 hours before the Race, and this is where many club representatives met Pauline for the first time.
The Race organisation was of course not done and dusted in the space of a few weeks; past members of the HORR Committee will readily bear witness to how her excellent administration skills and good humour were in action all year round.
Pauline was President of the Head of the River Race on the date of her death, and she was an officer of the Head of the River Race for over fifty years.