We are delighted to be supported by a growing number of HWR ambassadors to provide inspiration and motivation for our competitors and to showcase the thrill and excitement of racing at Henley Women’s Regatta.  There is now a wonderful opportunity for athletes to draw upon the experience of these role models, as the HWR ambassador programme becomes an integral part of the regatta.

HWR

Debbie Bruwer (née Flood)

Debbie switched sports from judo to rowing in the summer of 1997 and started learn-to-row courses at Tideway Scullers and Eton College. She first competed at HWR in 1998, winning elite single sculls for Tideway Scullers. Debbie went on to claim further HWR wins in the single as well as elite double and quadruple sculls over her years in the sport. Debbie was in the GB team for 15 years through juniors, U23s and seniors, winning five gold and one bronze World Championship medals as well Olympic silvers in the quad at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

In 2012 Debbie became the first female captain of Leander Club in its 200 year history and is a steward of Henley Royal Regatta. She said: “HWR in my first year of rowing was the most incredible experience – racing so close to a fantastic crowd and the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced. It has been an absolute joy watching HWR grow over these last 25 years both as a rower, spectator, then prizegiver for the event. It is my pleasure to be an ambassador for HWR to encourage females in their aspirations in our wonderful sport of rowing.” Debbie continues to be involved in rowing through mentoring with charity Christians in Sport.

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Ellen Buttrick

Ellen began rowing at age 17 at Leeds Rowing Club.  She continued rowing whilst studying geography at Northumbria University and in 2014 when diagnosed with a visual impairment decided to focus on gaining selection to represent GB at a Paralympic Games. Since joining the GB rowing team in 2018 she has become a multiple world and European champion. In 2021 at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games she won gold in the PR3 mixed coxed four, and in 2022 was awarded a MBE for services to rowing. Ellen returned to racing post-Tokyo in a championship pair at HWR 2023 and was later selected to represent GB in the PR3 women’s pair at the 2023 World Rowing Championships.

HWR

Emily Craig

Emily started rowing aged 12 at Bewl Bridge RC. She first competed at HWR in 2010 in junior double sculls, following this up in 2011 with a win in lightweight double sculls with Fran Rawlins. This was a major turning point for Emily as it was her first race as a lightweight coupled with success on national stage. 2013 saw her winning both lightweight and championships quadruple sculls, followed in 2015 with victory in lightweight double sculls with Ruth Walzack. She is the current world and European champion in lightweight double sculls with Imogen Grant and is aiming to represent GB at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

HWR

Jess Eddie

Jess is a role model to young rowers, having been part of the history-making women’s eight which picked up silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Team GB’s first ever medal in the event), as well as gold at the European Championships the same year. Jess first represented Team GB in the women’s quad at the World Junior Championships in 2001 aged 17, but moved to the women’s eight for good in 2007. She is a double world medallist at both under-23 and senior level. Jess is currently a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta and continues to support the sport through broadcasting and roles within several rowing events, including the Chair of Women’s Eights Head of the River Race.

HWR

Dame Katherine Grainger

With Olympic gold from London 2012 alongside Anna Watkins, and silver medals from Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Rio, Katherine is the first British woman to win medals at five successive Olympic Games. She is a steward of Henley Royal Regatta and has a range of broadcasting roles with rowing. Katherine is also currently the Chair of UK Sport and Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

HWR

Imogen Grant

Imogen learned to row at Cambridge University before joining the GB rowing team. She has won three Boat Races and is current world and European champion in the lightweight women’s double sculls with her partner Emily Craig. Having completed her medical degree at Cambridge she is aiming to represent GB at her second Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. HWR has provided Imogen with quality competition including wins in lightweight pairs in 2016, lightweight double sculls in  2017, and reaching the semi-finals of championship single sculls in 2018.

HWR

Jess Leyden

Jess was initially interested in equestrian sports but had an accident which left her unable to fully straighten her right arm. Her PE teacher introduced her to the British Rowing Project Oarsome junior programme – launched by Sir Steve Redgrave and funded by Sport England when she was 13.and she won her first race at the Agecroft Head of the River.
Jess became the first GB woman to win an international single sculls title when she took gold at the World Rowing Junior Championships in 2013. In 2017, she had her first senior championships podiums, winning bronze medals at both the Europeans and Worlds after a season disrupted by injury. In 2018 her quad was fifth at the Worlds, and in 2019 they were fifth at the Europeans and sixth at the worlds.  In 2022 Jess was back in the women’s quad, finishing fourth at World Cup I. They then took silver at World Cup III and a fantastic gold at the European Rowing Championships.
Jess has recently supported HWR with roles in race commentary.

HWR

Erin Kennedy MBE

Erin is a coxswain with the GB rowing team and is a Paralympic champion, three-time world and European champion and world best time holder, all with the PR3 Mix4+. Erin began rowing at Oxford, coxing the women’s Boat Race crew to victory in 2014, and her first ever domestic race outside was Henley Women’s Regatta back in 2013. Just eight months after winning gold in Tokyo, Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump whilst on training camp. She was just 29 when diagnosed and was determined not to let it end her career. She managed to continue to train and compete whilst undergoing treatment whilst raising awareness of early detection. Erin returned to the international stage following 15 rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, and won the European Championships in 2023, exactly a year following diagnosis. She is passionate about encouraging women to be active and take part in sport and is also a mentor with WOX, helping to develop the next generation of coxswains. Erin is delighted to be an ambassador and believes the combination of a unique community atmosphere combined with a ferocity of racing makes HWR an incredibly special regatta.

HWR

Miriam Luke MBE 

Miriam began rowing at Southampton University before joining Thames Rowing Club, Upper Thames and Henley Rowing Club. Miriam was a winner at HWR before selection to the GB Rowing team in 1990. For GB she went on to win multiple world championship medals and finally an Olympic silver medal in Sydney 2000, stroking the GB quadruple sculls crew in an incredibly close race alongside sister Guin, Katherine Grainger and Gillian Lindsay. This was the first Olympic rowing medal for GB women and Miriam and her crew inspired a future generation of British women to succeed at Olympic level. Miriam is currently president and a junior coach of Henley Rowing Club, and was chair of Henley Women’s Regatta until 2023. She was awarded an MBE for services to rowing in 2024.

HWR

Alison Mowbray

Alison Mowbray is a two-time HWR medallist, winning elite eights for Bedford RC in 1992 and the open single for CUWBC in 1996. She then went on to represent Great Britain at five World Championships and the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games, competing in the single in Sydney and taking home silver in the quadruple sculls alongside Rebecca Romero, Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood in Athens. Alison has remained a big supporter of HWR, volunteering with the on-course commentary team nearly every year since her retirement 20 years ago, as well as presenting prizes and announcing winners. “Women’s Henley holds a very special place in my heart. Winning the single was a huge confidence boost at a time when I was just training on my own at Cambridge. Next to my Olympic medal it’s probably my favourite and most memorable win,” Alison says.

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Grace Prendergast (New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Rowing)

Grace Prendergast joins the HWR ambassadors in 2024, after presenting the prizes and commentating at the regatta in 2023. Grace hails from Christchurch, New Zealand. She progressed from netball to rowing at Villa Maria College, before joining Avon RC. Grace is a five-time world champion, with medals across the women’s pair, four and eight, and is the current holder of the world best time in both the pair and the four. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Grace became Olympic Champion for New Zealand in the women’s pair and stepped in to the seven seat to win silver in the Kiwi women’s eight. She has also won three Henley Royal Regatta medals, and the Boat Race for Cambridge University in 2012. Grace has masters degrees in business and philosophy. She retired from rowing in 2022. Grace is passionate about women’s rowing and enjoys the excitement of side-by-side racing and the amazing Henley Women’s atmosphere.

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Naomi Riches MBE

Naomi’s first HWR experience was as a spectator. She then raced HWR qualifiers for Marlow RC in 2006. Living with a visual condition, achromatopsia, Naomi became part of the adaptive rowing team for Great Britain and won six world titles and two Paralympic medals in 2008 and 2012. Since retiring from rowing Naomi set a Guinness World Record as the first woman to row the length of the river Thames in under 48 hours. Naomi became chair of HWR in 2022, saying: “HWR is just such a supportive environment, so well run by incredible volunteers doing it purely for the love of the sport. HWR stands on our own, we stand out as an unique and hugely positive experience.” Naomi is a motivational speaker, facilitator and coach whose passion is to help others maximise their strengths.

HWR

Zoe De Toledo

Zoe is a former Team GB rowing cox who won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, guiding the senior women’s eight to their first ever Olympic medal. She also coxed the eight when they won gold at the 2016 European Rowing Championships and the Oxford eight at the 2012 Boat Race. Zoe has been part of the commentary team at Henley Women’s Regatta and presented prizes to the winning crews in 2018. Zoe has started a coxing community “The Winning Cox” (WOX), providing discussion, mentoring and educative resources.

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HWR

Anna Watkins MBE

Anna Watkins is a double Olympic medalist and two-time world champion in the women’s double scull. Anna won Olympic bronze with Elise Laverick in Beijing 2008 before teaming up with Katherine Grainger. This outstanding combination resulted in successive world championship gold medals and culminated with an unforgettable gold medal-winning performance at the London 2012 Olympics. She said: “I’m delighted to be able to support HWR as a brand ambassador. It’s a pretty awesome occasion when you have the very best rowers in Britain, outside the internationals, all together for one mighty event”

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HWR

Imogen Walsh

Imogen Walsh is one of GB’s most successful lightweight oarswomen. A former cox turned rower, Imogen has five world championship medals to her name from all three sculling events (4x, 2x, 1x). Imogen learnt to row at Glasgow University BC. She has been a member of Inverness RC, Clyde RC and London RC.
I first came to HWR in my second year of university, having only just started rowing (I was a very infrequent cox before this). I was in awe of the setting and the event! It was my first experience of rowing in the Thames valley, and it was a world away from the Clyde in Glasgow. We didn’t get through the time trial that time round, but I vowed to come back and make amends!
My favourite memory isn’t actually of my own racing at the event, but when I was able to be a guide sculler for a partially sighted competitor (I can’t remember the year, 2018?)
HWR was a starting point for me, in broadening my horizons of competition. Now as a Henley resident, I love seeing the town fill up with competitors, knowing the excitement and anticipation they are feeling (as I did), and wondering what memories they will take from their experience