Gig Rowing with War Horse author Sir Michael Morpurgo

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War Horse author Sir Michael Morpurgo chose an unusual way to relax at the Appledore Book Festival last week.


After delighting an audience by talking about his new books Flamingo Boy and In The Mouth of The Wolf, he joined the crew of the Appledore Pilot Gig Club for a row in the pouring rain. Clare, his wife of 55 years, had her misgivings about the trip but said: “I wasn’t surprised he went out because the stormier it gets the more he likes it. I’m just glad to see him back on dry land! I’m pleased for him too because he was really, really glad that he did it. He loves gigs and we always follow the gig boats when we go to the Scilly Isles.”


Naturally, 74-year-old Sir Michael, who is recovering after radio therapy treatment for larynx cancer, enjoyed every minute. He said: “It was all so very beautiful because you are doing the rowing in time with other people and feeling the movement of the boat.


“It was lovely for just a moment or two to be part of a team to move the boat along swiftly.”


Several onlookers were shocked to find out that Sir Michael had braved the elements but he joked:“ I was by far the best oarsman there – because the rest were oarswomen! That was a real treat and next time I come to the Appledore Book Festival  I’m going to read from the book I wrote called The Wreck of the Zanzibar in which gig rowers from Scilly were rowed out to a wreck. “


He added: “I enjoyed the book festival .  It was really great, Jeremy Vine, who interviewed me, was wonderful and the audience were superb. It’s my third or fourth time I think at the Festival and I shall keep coming back.”

Pilot Club coxain Steve “Lockie”  Lock was honoured to have Sir Michael aboard and was also very impressed by his technique. He said: “I’d been abroad teaching rowing and came back especially to cox this boat and Sir Michael loved every moment of it — and he was a very,  very good rower, too.

“He was perfectly in time and his stroke was good and his blade was going in properly.  We’ve told him if that he needs to de-stress to come down and have a row with us whenever he wants.”


We look forward at GigRower to reading his new book  featuring gig rowers form Scilly!


Article courtesy of Miche Tompkins


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