High Court Judge Chancery Division 1990-2005

Honorary Fellow Oriel College Oxford 2000.

MRC Captain 1957

MRC Chairman 1971-86

MRC President 1992-2007

MRC Vice-President and Honorary Life Member

Lady Sheila Ferris has reported to us the sad news that her husband, Sir Francis died on Monday 26th March, aged 86.

Sir Francis had the unique distinction to be the only member to have held the posts of Captain, Chairman and President, spanning half a century in the process. As a young oarsman, he was captain in 1957. He followed that with 15 years as Chairman and 15 as President.

He started his rowing career at Bryanston School and whilst at Oxford rowed for his college, Oriel, competing for them at Marlow Regatta in 1953/4/5. He bow-steered a Marlow coxless 4 in the Town Cup in 1956 and 1957.

I first came across him when I joined the club in 1983 and when I joined the committee right at the end of his tenure as Chairman in 1986, I recall the way he ruled the committee with a rod of iron. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and all decisions taken had to have his seal of approval. His judgement as excellent however and you always felt things were going in the right direction.

The club acquired a new, at the time state-of-the-art, Janousek coxed four in 1984 which was duly named Francis Ferris and we won many events in it that year. The following year it was loaned out to Maidenhead RC who won the Britannia Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in it.

Those who can remember the old boathouse might recall a false ceiling in the gym. Sir Francis generously donated this as well as being a major donor to the new boathouse fund.

As President, I recall he was fairly hands off when it came to committee, but he took his job as President seriously especially when it came to chairing AGMs and Club Suppers.

He was also very active for Marlow Regatta, joining their committee in 1963 and serving on the Management Committee from 1999-2004 after which he was elected Vice-President.

My last interaction with him came in 2012 when he donated his Olympic Finals tickets to the club as he was too frail to attend. He would have much enjoyed seeing club member Katherine and partner winning Olympic Gold.


John Yeatman

Chairman, Marlow Rowing Club