Club members hail founder member, who died on September 9.

Len White coxing a ladies' crew training for a 26-mile charity row in 2013. Picture: Andrew HobbsLen White coxing a ladies' crew training for a 26-mile charity row in 2013. Picture: Andrew Hobbs

Members of Appledore Pilot Gig Club will sadly gather to say a final farewell to their founder member and club president this week.

Len White, 73, was an iconic figure among the gig rowers of North Devon and was well-known for his seamanship and dedication to the sport, throughout the South West and Isles of Scilly.

He died peacefully at North Devon District Hospital on September 9, but had maintained his enthusiasm right up to the end, cheering his club members to victory in the Barnstaple Regatta only a few weeks ago.

Len started his rowing in the sliding seat boats of Bideford Blues and Reds, but his passion in later life was for the traditional wooden gigs that are now raced in coastal towns and villages up and down the country.

In 2003, he co-founded the Appledore club, working hard to raise the funds to purchase their first gig.

The club now has two wooden racing gigs Verbena and Whitford and two fibre-glass training boats Siren and Margaret James.

Len was particularly keen to make gig rowing accessible to youngsters, dedicating his time to promote a scheme to provide them with access to the water and coaching.

The junior section is steadily growing in numbers and Len was very proud to watch his granddaughter Caitlin take up the sport.

Len's enthusiasm for the history and craftsmanship involved in building gig boats meant he spent many hours maintaining them at the club boats; caring for them was a labour of love and a testament to his skill.

As a coxswain he was able to read the wind and water and get the very best out of his crews, whether racing in the Gig World Championships or simply enjoy the setting sun over the Appledore.

A funeral service will be held at St Mary's Church in Appledore tomorrow (Thursday) at 1pm. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired to Appledore Pilot Gig Club by retiring collection.