Peter Todd died on 2 February 2023, aged 79. Peter was a Solicitor in Sheffield for 45 years. His real love, though, was rowing. He was a founder member of City of Sheffield Rowing Club and, after moving to Exmouth in 2010, began coastal rowing. Peter’s rowing career started at College and he continued to proudly wear his College rowing blazer to Henley Royal Regatta.
The following is an abridged piece written by Peter’s friend Graham Hurley, published in full on the Exmouth Rowing Club website.
Cards on the table – Toddy was a hero of mine, a very special stranger who stepped into all our lives at ERC [Exmouth Rowing Club] a whole 13 years ago. Toddy, we were quickly aware, was a lifelong fine-boater, a practitioner of the delicate arts of balancing a competitive eight, driving for the finish line at Henley, and moving at once to the hospitality tent. In keeping with his Chairmanship of the Sheffield Rowing Club, he wore an extravagant blazer, knew a great deal about the fine arts of blading, won national and world champ medals in the 1970s, and chuckled a lot.
Coastal rowing took him utterly by surprise: no blazer, no angst issues with balance and perfect technique, but a great deal of water, tides that could eat you alive, and a fleet of French sea boats that doffed a cap to sliding seats but – if handled properly – would keep you safe.
Toddy, as ever, handled them more than properly. To his great surprise, given his many fine boat triumphs, he found himself falling in love with expeditions to Topsham and Dawlish, with the craic and camaraderie amongst the Vulcs [the Vulcaneers, a crew that rows twice a week in the Exe Estuary], and – when conditions turned suddenly evil – with the quiet knowledge that we’d always see each other home safe.
Home safe. In all, I rowed with Toddy twice a week for more than a decade and during those years he became a close friend and a bit of a mentor. Not in terms of rowing skills (he sensibly gave up after a while) but in terms of the man he so clearly was. As a crew, as the years went by, we lost count of the tally of injuries Toddy sustained and survived: throat cancer, broken ribs, a broken neck undiagnosed after a skiing accident, a heart attack that nearly killed him, and finally two brand new knees to replace the wear and tear of rowing and various rock-climbing scrapes. The man, we all quietly concluded, was immortal.
But it was far, far more than that. Toddy, says yours truly, was a man apart, a very special combination of resilience, generosity, unflagging commitment to the next mile and the next pint, plus a kind of homespun South Yorkshire wisdom all the better for being quietly blunt.
Above all, in an ever-noisier culture, he had the gentleman’s talent for listening. To every conversation, and there were many, he brought the patience and the curiosity to bide his time, judge his entrance, and offer advice or a yarn or two. He was an intensely clubbable man. He loved the to and fro of crews yakking on and off the water, and when it came to advice his judgement was largely bang-on. He had a fund of stories and a wonderful sense of life’s ironies, large and small. For his wisdom, wit, and unfailing good humour, I loved the man.