Ashton Brown at her boat naming
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Boat naming honour for duo

Professor Michael Potter and Dr Ashton Brown were honoured for their contribution to rowing at Fitzwilliam College in a boat naming ceremony at the Boat House on Saturday.

A new pair/double was named Michael Potter, acknowledging Professor Potter’s 25-year stint as Treasurer of the Billygoats Society, which supports Fitzwilliam College Boat Club.

A new women’s VIII was called Ashton Brown, after Ashton (Education 2014), a triple Blue and the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club President in 2017.

Professor Michael Potter


Professor Michael Potter said: “It’s an honour. I’m very pleased they wanted to recognise me like that. 

“I was asked to become Treasurer sometime around 1993, and having started doing it I carried on for a very long time.

“I started rowing as a cox when I was a student at Oxford. I did a bit of rowing, then I moved on to coaching. I coached the Fitz first VIII, which got blades – I think the blades are still in the bar. 

“Then I found I was too busy during term time, so I had to give it up, which I regret.

“The thing that gave me greatest pleasure in coaching was finding people who had been bad at sport at school and thought that was because they were bad at sport, but actually they were bad at school sports, almost all variants of things where you need hand to eye coordination.

“Rowing is extremely physically demanding, but what you need in rowing is the ability to concentrate for long periods and it’s a completely different kind of sport.

“It was very rewarding seeing people realising that it wasn’t that they were bad at sport, they were just bad at one kind of sport.”

Ashton Brown and her Fitz Boat Club team-mates


Ashton Brown said: “It’s definitely quite an honour. Fitz has been so supportive of me throughout my time in Cambridge and to have a boat named after me is so special. And it’s the women rowing in it, so some of the women rowing in it I would’ve rowed with in Bumps, which is pretty cool.

“The timing worked out well. It ties in with finishing my PhD. To have a connection to the College is very special.

“I started rowing in 2007 and largely stopped in 2017. I started rowing at Princeton during my undergraduate degree. When I was a fresher I signed up, and I liked it.

"I actually didn’t think I’d do it for long. I thought it would be a good chance to meet people, I’d get cut eventually and move on. I’ve met a lot of friends, some amazing people along the way and had a few adventures and misadventures!

“Most of my rowing was for the University, but I always felt Fitz was behind me. Everyone’s competing for a spot and there’s a lot of pressure, but to have that unconditional support is pretty special.”

Ashton also paid tribute to Professor Potter, saying his support, and that of others in College, allows cohesion and consistency amid the ever-changing nature of university sport.

“Having an organised Boat Club with consisted support from the College is amazing,” Ashton said.

“Talking to friends at other colleges, there’s often a lot of turnover, so nobody’s there with institutional memory. It’s a selfless job, and to keep doing it for so long. It shows a lot of love for Fitz as a whole, to want students to have a good experience. It’s a lovely community.”

- Thanks to Hazel Walker for the photos

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