Medal makes history - again

WHEN Coraki man Roy Wilkes rang the Manning River Rowing Club about a medal his late grandfather had won, he wasn’t prepared for the interest the 120-year-old inscribed gold keepsake would create.

Roy’s grandfather, Augustus Wilkes, won the medal in the Manning River Rowing and Sailing Club’s annual championship race in 1890.

He was just 21-years-old at the time and his medal, which is still in remarkably good condition, has become a precious family heirloom.

“The medal was handed down from grandfather to dad and dad gave it to me about 25 years ago,” Roy said.

“I had always intended to give the Manning River Rowing Club a call, but it wasn’t until recently that I got on to them.

“I told them grandfather had won the medal in a sculling race and asked if they’d be interested in seeing it. At first they couldn’t believe how old it was. When I told them it was dated 1890 they thought they had misheard me.”

Roy took the medal to Taree to show it to rowing club members and they were so impressed they decided they should do something to commemorate the original championship race.

“Basically, they decided to revive the race and hold the event annually in honour of grandfather,” Roy said.

The race over 16km goes around Dumaresq Island in the Manning River.

The first event was held earlier this month and Roy travelled to Taree to present the winners with a perpetual trophy he donated.

The trophy is a hand-crafted wooden shield which features a photograph of Augustus Wilkes and the medal.

“It was a great weekend and everyone who saw the medal was impressed,” Roy said.

For the record, the men’s race was won by Richard Rendell in 1hr-16mins-26secs, and the women’s race was won by Nichol Pullen in 1hr-21m-59s.

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