The aim of the society is to act as a forum for discussion of school and junior rowing and to provide stimulus, support and a source of ideas for all directors of rowing at school boat clubs.
The Kitchin Society developed in the late fifties and early sixties when a few coaches from the larger rowing schools gathered out of season to discuss issues of mutual interest. A E Kitchin was a tremendously successful coach at Shrewsbury in between the wars and when the Society became more formalised those involved decided to name it in his memory.
While the Society’s foundation involved a small number of the traditional boys’ independent schools the current membership of nearly seventy schools incorporates both State and Independent sectors, representing boys, girls and co-educational school boat clubs. Heads of Rowing are invited to each meeting along with Senior members (former Heads of Rowing) who choose to retain involvement. An annual membership fee is levied on schools, essentially to cover dining costs but with surplus funds occasionally supporting individuals at international level but, more widely, making donations to organisations developing and widening access to the sport. State Schools are exempted.
Discussion and resolutions concerning rowing (and sculling) matters (safety and safeguarding, competition, widening access, participation and regulation) carry increasing weight with representatives in attendance at meetings from British Rowing (Club and GB U19), the JRC, SHoRR, NSR, HWR, HRR and The Scullery. Proposals from these organisations are brought to the meetings for discussion, with responses and initiatives from the Society taken away for further review. The Society works closely with the Junior Rowing Commission which includes several members of the Society.
The Society was engaged by the Independent Schools’ HMC to understand the sport better and how it supports children to cope with the challenges of balancing academics and training. A representative of the HMC continues to be involved as an associate member.
The society meets twice a year in hosted by member schools in September at the start of the school year and then again in January. Meetings are held in the evenings on Saturdays with the September gathering in tandem with the U19 GB wash-up. Our meetings conclude with drinks and dinner after which an informal talk or discussion on a subject of current interest will ensue, often with a guest speaker. Interim business is expedited by the annually elected committee though extended to the current membership via email for matters of greater import or financial implication.
Whatever the ways in which the Society can influence the organisation of rowing for School clubs and the children that commit so much time and energy to improving their strength fitness and skills, it is through mutual co-operation and support that school rowing will flourish. We warmly welcome members from all schools to enhance this, encouraging especially those representing state schools.
John Wiggins – Chairman – revised January 2024