Di Ellis (née Hall)

Years 1966 (8o 6th)
Club St George’s Ladies RC
Born 1938

Dame Di Ellis’s life in rowing, and her many achievements in the sport – both on the water as a competitor and umpire, as well as off it as an administrator at the highest level – are well documented in her obituary from British Rowing  and in The Guardian.

St Georges (c) John Shore

Di is held aloft at an impromptu ‘reunion’ of St George’s Ladies RC members at the World Veteran Rowing Championships in Strathclyde in 1988. From left: Jacqui Parry, Margaret Sayer, Di Ellis, Beryl Crockford, Val Austin. (Photo © John Shore.)

A favourite memory that many of us have of her was from the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships at Dorney. That year the volunteer uniforms were a light royal blue – exactly the colour of smurfs, as it happened, and various smurf-themed in-jokes had developed during the event, including the wearing of white surf hats. In a perfect blend of leadership and joining in the fun, she signed off her ‘thank you’ email to the volunteers as “Smurf-in-Chief”. And you don’t get that from the Chairmen of all governing bodies!

Di Ellis Marshaling (c) John Shore

Di (right) marshaling at an event. (Photo © John Shore.)

Sadly, Di passed away died just a few weeks before Rowing Story was launched, but had enthusiastically supported the project, and I am hugely grateful to her or her help and encouragement. It was typical – though no less valued for that – that she was still answering emails about details of rowing history just weeks before her death.

Di Ellis 2004

Di Ellis at Henley – one of her favourite photos. (Photo © John Shore.)

Further photos of Di can be found in the St George’s Ladies RC album.