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  • Writer's pictureImperial College Boat Club

A Celebration of ICBC Medical Students

Prospective students often ask us whether it’s possible for them to study medicine and row as part of the boat club. The answer is of course, yes- but a brief look at the history reveals much more than that. It’s quite astonishing to see the huge contributions our alumni are not only making in their roles within the NHS now, but have also made to the boat club over the years.

Luke Whiting, Emily Boother and Toby Heaton (fourth from left), class of 2020

Three members of ICBC-Toby Heaton, Emily Boother and Luke Whiting- were part of the cohort of final year Imperial medical students who sat online exams just a few weeks ago. In a world first, these remote exams have allowed them to graduate early and join the NHS staff on the frontline. Toby was an active committee member for many years, including as men's captain in 2017/8, and dedicated a great deal of time to organising last year's very successful Centenary Dinner. A year on, he will be fast-tracked into his career as an army doctor having been awarded a prestigious sponsorship from the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Rachel Whiting, class of 2019

They follow in the footsteps of last year’s graduates Maddy Ardissino, Harry Knights and Rachel Whiting. Maddy learnt to row with us as a novice and went on to represent Italy at the U23 World Championships in 2016. Amongst many other contributions to the club, Maddy placed second and third overall at WEHORR, won a gold medal at the European University Championships in 2017 and captained the women’s squad the following year. She said of her time at Imperial:

“My time at ICBC has, hands down, been the highlight of my time at university. I have met people that have been my best friends since. I loved the wins, took the losses to make them into something better, and everything I learned during my time at ICBC definitely makes me a better doctor.”

Maddy Ardissino, class of 2019

Jade Hubbard, Ollie Dent and Nina Dalton are now in their FY2 as junior doctors, while former team mate Tim Richards is working as an intensive care clinical fellow in Bristol having graduated a year prior in 2017. Jade won the elite lightweight pairs event at Henley Women’s Regatta in 2015. Tim represented Great Britain at the U23 World Championships on three occasions whilst studying for his medical degree, taking home two silver medals in 2013 and 2014.

Tim Richards, class of 2017

Tim was also part of the Imperial crew which won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup in 2013. All but one of this crew were medical students: he was joined by Ellie Smith (class of 2016), Henry Goodier & Ben Spencer Jones (class of 2015) and Jonny Rankin. Ellie, who studied medicine as a graduate student, was women’s/ club captain in 2014, while Ben captained the club in 2012. Henry finished 5th at the U23 World Championships for Great Britain in 2011 whilst studying for his medical degree at Imperial. He went on to complete a masters at Oxford, during which he won the Boat Race, and is now working as a specialist registrar in trauma and orthopaedics.

“Rowing was a huge part of my life at medical school,” said Ellie. “It provided an amazing group of friends and unparalleled experiences. I use the leadership and team working skills every day in my clinical practice and the early morning training sessions even prepared me for my early surgical starts!”

Ellie Smith, class of 2016, with Henley winning crew Jonny Rankin, Henry Goodier & Ben Spencer Jones (class of 2015) and Tim Richards

Two-time Olympian and Rio silver medallist, Melanie Wilson, also studied graduate medicine at Imperial. A kind face around the boat club from time to time today, there is no doubt that Mel has and continues to be a huge contributor to ICBC alongside her work as an NHS doctor.

"My time at Imperial was one of the most challenging, and most rewarding times in my rowing career. It’s given me a deep-seated confidence that I don’t think I could have found elsewhere. Getting through tough periods of training and study has undoubtedly helped me deal with working as a doctor in the NHS. It’s given me my rowing career, and it’s also given me my career as a doctor."

Melanie Wilson, Olympic Silver Medallist in the Women's Eight at Rio 2016

The list goes on, from more recent graduates Ella Taylor and Deepika Reddy, to Simon Hislop, who won the first edition of what is now the Prince Albert Challenge Cup in 2004. Simon captained the club in 2006 and won a second Henley in the Visitor’s Challenge Cup in 2008. He is now working at one of the NHS Nightingale hospitals at the very forefront of the current pandemic. Peter Reilly (class of 1994) won the Temple Challenge Cup in 1992 in a record-breaking time. He is still working as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Imperial College Healthcare Trust over twenty-five years on, and remains a valued supporter and contributor to the club.

With seven current students working towards medial degrees at present- including Gled Musollari, current club captain, and Casper Woods, U23 silver medallist and PA winner 2018- there is no doubt that this legacy of success both on and off the water will continue.

"With medicine being nearly twice the length of most other degrees at Imperial, breaking up time spent in the library is quite a good idea, and ICBC has this way of making Monday 6ams seem like that good idea," said Gled. "For me, IC has provided a stable platform for progression and confidence both in my sporting abilities and in my studies."

Our boat club Chairman, Professor Alison McGregor, has dedicated a great deal of support to the club, but also to the sport of rowing in a wider sense, leading a research project into rowing kinematics that contributed to the success of the GB Rowing team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Professor Mc Gregor has a unique outlook on our medical student members in particular through her position in the Faculty of Medicine, and said:

"My involvement with Imperial’s boat club came through two medical students, Rob Dennis and Peter Holt, who- through their persistence aided by the head coach Bill Mason- got me to research back pain and injuries in rowers. Their drive and commitment drew me in and I am now part of this large family. I see the skills they grow and develop; rowing being so key to their successes. Now they are qualified doctors and their drive in rowing is reflected in their medical careers. I am so proud of what they have achieved, what they are doing and what I know they will achieve in the years to come."

As a club, we are both exceptionally proud of all of our medics and the incredible work they are doing in this time of crisis and most grateful for everything they have contributed to the club in their time rowing for Imperial.

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