STAGING Celebrating Volunteers' Week: Bedford Regatta keeps it in the family - British Rowing

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week: Bedford Regatta keeps it in the family

Bedford Regatta is run by many volunteers including Regatta Secretary Hugh Maltby, who has been involved for 25 years


Hugh Maltby (right) pictured with Bedford Regatta Chairman George Hammond

Volunteers’ Week is a way of thanking everyone who gives their time to help out up and down the country. Led by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Volunteers’ Week is the perfect time to spotlight all these amazing people.

Many rowing volunteers generously give their time to help out at head races and regattas all year round. Bedford Regatta is no different and relies on volunteers to make the day run like clockwork.


Held on 11 May, the 2019 Bedford Regatta featured 265 races, with 1,600 competitors representing 47 clubs and competing for 44 events, with the final race beginning just six minutes after the scheduled end time.

The competition’s success is down to an army of umpires, marshals, helpers and suppliers, who willingly give up their time to support the event behind the scenes.

Organised by a joint committee of all the main rowing clubs in the town, at the helm is Hugh Maltby, the Regatta Secretary. Hugh has rowing in his DNA, coming from a family steeped in rowing history.

But these days Hugh has hung up his oar preferring to focus on the organisation of the regatta, which he and his father have been involved with for 47 consecutive years. Indeed, it continues to be a family affair, with his wife Rachel, performing the role of Entries Secretary for the past 15 years. The next generation of Maltbys are also being inducted, with both his eldest sons performing various roles at the regatta, while his youngest son competed for Bedford School at this year’s event.

While Bedford Regatta will never compete with the various multi-lane events, Hugh feels that the competition provides a special and, most importantly, fun day’s racing.

“Racing through the centre of the town, the regatta has its own unique qualities including the ‘Bedford roar’ which greets crews as they race side-by-side through the lengthy, packed enclosure.”

As with other competitions, the implementation of technology has fundamentally altered the way the event is run. There are no longer handwritten draws or results, instead the racing programme is instantaneously created with live results available within seconds of each race finishing. A far cry from 30 years ago, when the draw would take a painstaking day to produce!

The regatta has its own unique qualities including the ‘Bedford roar’

Looking to the future, Hugh is keen to attract more club crews.

“We are a perfect event for those who maybe aren’t yet of a standard to compete at Henley, but who want a good day’s racing. Most of our events have up to four rounds, which ensures that the winners have well and truly earned their pewter tankards!”

Find out more about the Bedford Regatta here.

Look out for the British Rowing volunteer survey

Rowing wouldn’t happen without all our fabulous volunteers. They really are the lifeblood of the sport. British Rowing will be launching a volunteer survey later this year to see how we can better support all our volunteers. Look out for more details on our website and social media channels.

Find out about volunteering here.