Sally Lawrence obituary

Other lives: Chartered accountant whose passion was helping people of all abilities to enjoy rowing

My friend Sally Lawrence, who has died aged 60 of cancer, was a chartered accountant whose passion was rowing. She was the heart and soul of Lea Rowing Club in east London, where I am a member.

Sally was born and grew up in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, daughter of Marion (nee Dearden) and John Grayson, who owned an engineering business making components for manufacturing. She attended St Elphin’s school, Darley Dale, and then studied geography at Durham University. After graduating in 1981, Sally took an MSc at the University of Tennessee, where she met Daniel Lawrence, another student. They married in 1984 and they returned to the UK, where Sally qualified as a chartered accountant and Daniel became an environmental lawyer. The couple made their home in Wanstead, east London.

She worked for many years as an accountant for Corporate Consulting Group, but when her father died 11 years ago, she left her job and took over the family business until it could be sold.

Sally loved the outdoors and had many hiking and cycling tour adventures at home and overseas. It was on a local cycling excursion with her family that she first came across Lea Rowing Club.

Sally’s support of the club started in 2000, firstly helping to look after junior rowers and then the club finances. Her involvement grew. As well as being club secretary for many years, she was soon looking after race entries, boat spares and repairs, memberships, helping to organise the two annual club regattas and much more.

Sally was always the person who would see the need for something and step up to make it happen. She helped to transform the club from being focused on elite and performance rowing into a place that welcomed everyone, whatever their ability or experience. She would support anyone who had specific needs, from people with physical and mental challenges to a local group of Hasidic Jewish women who just loved being on the water. She encouraged people to try new things, train harder, put themselves up for races, but she knew there was much more to rowing than winning a race.

On top of all this, Sally found the time to take up coxing, rowing and later coaching. She coxed many groups at the Lea and had many successful trips to the World Masters championships. Sally had an authority in the boat and you instantly knew that she was fully briefed and in control.

In 2014 Sally became secretary to the Eastern Region Rowing Committee. She was to be awarded the British Rowing medal of merit this year, an award for exceptional contribution to rowing, but because of the lockdown she was unable to receive it in person.

Sally is survived by Daniel and their children, Louiza and Henry.

Jo Baxter

The GuardianTramp

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