Something you don't see very often flashing up in the Google calendar is a '100th Birthday tomorrow'. I visited George yesterday and can report that he is in general good health, able to carry on a conversation, have a laugh and remember significant events and characters from the past. He spoke of Con McNamara, Joe Andreoli, Sid Sharp and Bill Nix. On behalf of the club I was able to reunite him with a sculling blade that bore his name and a club shirt with the famous black and yellow.
George was also delighted to learn that the club will rename/commemorate the new structure attached to the 1882 boat shed completed in 2015 (opened by George) as the George Neilson Wing. He said that this was the greatest honour ever bestowed to him and so it seems even at 100 things can still improve!
The BRC flag flew for an hour or so this morning over the shed to commemorate this significant event.. Please join other club members and make history for a video link up 100th Happy Birthday sing along / cake after the ICC this Sunday.
After a long absence, George was able to visit the club a few weeks ago (thanks to Beverley and Polly) and reunite with the 60's rowers, Con Lucas, Gary Pearce and others. Most importantly George is very happy with how the club is going.
If you wish to send on any messages/mail please send either to email@example.com or P.O Box 15 Balmain 2041 and the club will be sure to pass them on.
The following words written by David Longhurst will appear on the Rowing NSW Website:
George Maxwell Neilson, OAM
George was born on 27th October 1917 and has devoted a significant portion of his long life to the sport of rowing. He began his now seven and a half decade involvement with the sport as a competitor in 1937, describing himself as “a competitive, but average rower” nonetheless in 1939 he won a State championship. George rowed for Balmain Rowing Club until 1955.
Throughout his long career, George has devoted much of his energy and expertise to the black and yellow of one club, Balmain and to the sport of rowing in general, a sport which does not often capture media headlines. Up until quite recently he was a coach of young rowers – many of whom have gone on to representative level. He has willingly accepted “behind the scenes” roles – timekeeper, starter, judge, marshal, club representative, etc. as well as administrative roles. One highlight was as an octogenarian he drove one of the commentary vehicles for the 2000 Olympic Rowing Regatta. George is a Life Member of both Balmain Rowing Club and NSW Rowing, His dedication, sense of fair play and ongoing involvement has set a fine example for others in the sport of rowing.
This generosity has carried over to the community in general: George was a founding member of Lovett Bay Bush Fire Brigade; a volunteer who undertook the maintenance and repair of small vessels for NSW Heritage Fleet, delivery man for Meals on Wheels to ‘customers’ often a decade or two younger than him.
In 2006 George Neilson was awarded the NSW Maritime Medal for his seven-decade involvement in rowing and volunteer work for the Sydney Heritage Fleet. Further acknowledgement came in 2010 when he was awarded an OAM for his contribution to both rowing and the community in general.
Currently George is the Balmain Rowing Club's respected patron.