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Congratulations to

  • Simon Wrightson, High Sherriff of North Yorkshire 2017-2018, taking over from Johnny Furness

  • John Dickinson High Sherriff of Northumberland 2017-2018

  • Archie Thornton-Berry commissioned into the Royal Dragoon Guards

  • William Stirling on winning Classic Boat’s award for BEST RESTORATION of a motor vessel

OA News


OA Reached the Finish Line as a Champion

 We're proud to announce that Old Aysgarthian Dan Howie and Will North arrived into English Harbour, Antigua at the end of January after completing the world's toughest rowing race. They won the pairs class in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, completing the 3,000 mile row in 53 days 9 hours and 30 minutes.

“We are ecstatic to have won our class in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Nothing could have prepared us for the treacherous conditions at sea and it feels phenomenal to have overcome the challenges. Thank you to all who have supported us along the way.” Dan Howie.

Challenge highlights for Will and Dan included dolphin sightings and being flanked by a pod of whales, which helped to boost morale for the pair whilst they battled against high seas, survived on freeze dried food rations and dealt with excruciating sores.

The challenge consisted of a 24 hour a day rowing schedule, with Dan and Will each completing alternate two hour shifts until the 3,000 mile course was completed. Alongside the demand of the day-to-day rowing, both team members battled a series of testing circumstances such as waves reaching up to 50ft, the dangers of rowing a major shipping lane, deadly wildlife, physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

Their aim was to raise as much money as possible for three charities close to their hearts - Cancer Research UK, Leukemia & Lymphoma Research and St Anna’s. Previous to their challenge, Dan visited Aysgarth School at the opening of the new Clement Hales Sports Hall, where he gratefully received a £3,000 donation after the boys completed their 'rowathan'.

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Obituary, Ralph Dowson 31st January 1988 to 27th August 2017

Written by his father Simon Dowson

4th October 2017

Ralph Dowson was born in York on 31st January 1988, a birthday he shared with his brother Lawrence who was born on the same day three years later.

Early childhood was spent in Wombleton on the southern edge of the North York Moors and after three years at Helmsley Primary School the family moved to Denbigh in North Wales in 1996, returning to North Yorkshire in 1997 when Ralph joined Aysgarth School (1997-2001). Ralph loved boarding school and was never happier than when among the company of friends.

After Aysgarth Ralph did his GCSE’s at Ampleforth College (O04) and his A levels at Shrewsbury School (M 2004-06). Not built for traditional boys public school sports Ralph joined in where he could but it was at Shrewsbury School that he found his niche. Shrewsbury is a rowing school and at less than eight stone he was the ideal weight for a cox.

Ralph’s two years at Shrewsbury coincided with a strong first eight and the arrival of Todd Jesdale, an exceptional coach from North America. In 2006 Shrewsbury School first eight had a superb year, winning the Schools Head of the River for the first time in 24 years by a record margin of 26 seconds. They had the satisfaction of overtaking Eton after Chiswick and beat 36 other school’s first boats. The same year they won the National Schools Regatta and just about everything else they entered.

After a short cookery course at the Orchard Cookery School Ralph spent the 2006-2007 ski season as a chalet host in Les Arcs. With his laid back charm he was often able to persuade the guests to tidy up and make their own beds so he could spend more time showing them around the mountain. Subtle changes to the menus helped to save more time, for example ‘rustic’ (unpeeled) mashed potato saved at least 15 minutes a day which could be better spent skiing.

These ruses paid off and his skiing improved enormously. In February 2007 he finished second Englishman in the Robert Blanc Derby, a race involving 250 starters over a 6km course from the highest to the lowest skiable point in Les Arcs. Skiing remained a passion and he always managed to get to the slopes at least once every year.

Armed with a BA in Business Studies from Oxford Brookes University Ralph began his working career at a school uniform factory in Leeds. In 2012 he joined London House Rugs in Boston Spar and discovered his true calling, buying and selling oriental rugs. His natural ability to take a sincere interest in people and his willingness to go out of his way to help made him an ideal salesman. After a year in Yorkshire he set up an outpost in London to take advantage of the business opportunities there. Business was brisk and his lengthy list of customers included Rowan Atkinson, Annie Lennox and Nelson’s Ward Room on HMS Victory. Ralph thrived and loved every minute of it.

Ralph left London house early in 2017 and spent more than three months travelling in India to improve and expand his knowledge of the country and of oriental rugs. Staying with business contacts, suppliers, rug manufacturers and local families he went from Lahore in the North down the west coast to the southern tip then up the east side of the country all the way to Kathmandu. It was the beginning of a real love for and fascination of the orient.

He returned to the UK in June 2017 and in July moved into a new flat in Fulham and joined Matthew Wailes (London) Ltd in Chelsea Harbour as Brand/Sales manager for BOMAT, a Belgian owned Indian rug manufacturer. He had everything to live for.

Ralph died in his sleep on 27th August 2017. He was with friends celebrating a 30th birthday party. He was doing exactly the sort of thing he liked doing most.