A philanthropic project that traces its roots back almost 70 years came to fruition for the first time this week with the announcement of an initial recipient of the John Hall Rowing Scholarship.
The scholarship, valued at $10,000 annually, has been awarded to Bachelor of Biomedicine student and Melbourne University Boat Club (MUBC) member Eliza Gaffney.
Gaffney was initially stunned when told of her success this week.
“I feel like I’ve been so fortunate to this point, as my parents have given everything to allow me to study and continue rowing,“ she said.
“I do think I have an obligation to become independent though and I’m so grateful for this scholarship that will support me to study and chase my rowing ambitions with the club, State and country.”
Richard Hall created the scholarship in memory of his father John, to support talented rowers to continue competitively rowing with MUBC whilst studying at the University of Melbourne.
John Hall began at the University of Melbourne in 1952 and was quickly identified as a talented oarsman. At just 19, after his second season with MUBC John was selected for the successful 1953 Victorian King's Cup crew.
Unfortunately, financial considerations caused John to cease competitive rowing in late 1953, and he could only watch as his MUBC and Victorian rowing contemporaries went on to national and Olympic successes.
John’s children Tony, Richard and Kate all rowed representatively for MUBC subsequently and John stayed in close contact with many of his old rowing mates throughout his life.
From 2020 and into the future, the hope is that this generous gift can enable young, talented rowers to continue their own journeys at MUBC and the University of Melbourne.