Tributes paid to three-time Olympian from Northamptonshire

Christopher Davidge
Christopher Davidge

Former High Sheriff of Northamptonshire and three-times Olympic rower, Christopher Davidge, has died aged 85.

Born and raised in Northampton, Christopher Guy Vere Davidge lived with his wife, Jill, in Little Houghton before he passed away on December 22, 2014.

He served the town in many ways, including acting for a decade as the vice president at St Andrew’s Hospital, following previous generations of family members, some of who helped found the mental health hospital.

He was also a chairman of governors at Three Shires Hospital, which he co-founded,and chairman of trustees as the University of Northampton.

He was also acknowledged as a kindly landlord and rented out two farms and about twenty houses in and around Little Houghton.

The Little Houghton Estate he managed stretched from the edge of Northampton to Brafield’s boundary with Denton.

He was known by almost everyone in Little Houghton because he and his wife open the grounds of their house for functions, the Village Fete, and each Christmas Eve, the Oakley Hounds meet.

Friend of many decades and church warden John Ford said at Mr Davidge’s funeral service: “He loved parties.

“Nothing gave him more pleasure than to fill his house and garden with people.

“That he did on many occasions, always with gracious ease and generosity.”

In 1988, Mr Davidge acted as High Sheriff for Northamptonshire, following in the footsteps of his father, Vere, in 1950.

But he was best known for his commitment to rowing, competing for Great Britain in the Olympics of 1952, 1956 and 1960, and won Silver Goblets at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta on three occasions.

In a letter of condolence to Mrs Davidge – one of about 200 so far – Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the British Olympic Association, wrote: “I don’t need to say what an extraordinary inspiration and role model he was to so many across all sport.

“His wonderful achievements were a credit to him and to the country,”

The former Oxford University student competed in the famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race three times, including in 1951 when the Oxford boat sank and in 1952 when his crew won by a length in a snowstorm.

Mrs Davidge said her husband was very highly regarded among the rowing community and she has had a personal visit from Sir Steve Redgrave since Mr Davidge’s death.

Mrs Davidge said: “Most people who met him would agree he was a very nice person. To me, as a husband, he was splendid.”

British Rowing described Mr Davidge as a “great oarsman and servant of the sport” for more than 60 years. He became chairman of the Regattas Commission for world rowing body FISA, vice president of the British Olympic Association and Steward of the Henley Regatta. While president of the Amateur Rowing Association, he was appointed honorary life president and in 1973 received a Medal of Honour for outstanding service to the sport.