It was seemingly wetter out than in before, during and after the 880 yard (800m) race for the Percy Clears cup. First home was Chris Hatcher, followed by Poppy Lenton, Brian Thomas and Mike Harris.
The post-race presentations and speeches are almost back to normal and much cheer and cake (thanks Paddy) enjoyed. This, though, was tempered by the knowledge that the cup is dedicated to the memory of a club member killed in the final weeks of the Great War. Clare Doyle, who presents the prizes for this fixture, spoke movingly of sacrifice and waste and of the village war memorials that give testament to a generation of young lives lost.
Chris Hatcher, 2021 winner of the Percy Clears cup
In 2013 we had a cup to use, but not much story to the name
Then John Tierney's research uncovered the sad back story
It is interesting how the story of Percy Clears came to light. Barney Miller stood down from sponsoring the Andean Project 4 x 220-yard relay race after the 2011 event. The club introduced an 880-yard race in its place in 2013 (there was no fixture on the corresponding Saturday in 2012 due to the Olympics). Neil Price, a member since 2003, took on the sponsorship. The Percy Clears cup was one of the trophies that had come back into the club's possession and we decided to use this small, stylish trophy for Neil's race. In the run-up to the fixture the history of Percy was not apparent. Alan Lacy, who turned 90 just before Neil's race, said he could remember an elderly member called Herbert Clears from when he first joined the club in 1948, but not a Percy. Quite a mystery, until John Tierney undertook his much appreciated research.
Neil and his wife Solveig moved to Solveig's native Canada a few years ago. They live in Ottawa where Neil practices as an osteopath. I am sure if any of our members find themselves in the vicinity with various aches and pains Neil will offer "mates-rates", providing this is supplemented with cake and biscuits!
Clare Doyle, a member since 2004, agreed to take over sponsorship in 2018. This Saturday saw us return to virtual normality with Alan Mitchell delivering his president’s speech and Clare presenting the cup and awarding prizes.
Incidentally, the Andean cup has been repurposed - since 2018 it has been presented to the winner of the Luckhurst family 880-yard (800m) race - coming up in two weeks time on 21 August.
We owe a debt of gratitude to John Tierney for his research into Percy and his brothers
Percy James Clears was one of four brothers who were members of Serpentine SC. His swimming brothers were Arthur E., Herbert H., and D.J. Clears. The brothers were club members between 1901 and 1919, their membership payments being recorded in the Serpentine SC Subscription book from early last century in the following years: Arthur 1901-1912, Herbert 1902-1919, PJ 1904-1918, DJ 1905-09 and 1911-1916.
Percy James Clears was born in Fulham in December 1882. He died aged 36 on 26 October 1918 in West Flanders, Belgium. Percy Clears was a Sapper in the British Army, and served with the Royal Engineers. His burial plot is in West Flanders, Belgium at the Harlebeke New British Cemetery, which is located 32 kilometres east of Leper town centre.
Percy’s brother Herbert H. Clears was a Private with the Tank Corps. Herbert was a prisoner of war from 15 September 1916 until Armistice Day 11 November 1918. Herbert Clears was very much a veteran member when the late Alan Lacy joined the club in 1948.
This link will take you to club member John Tierney's marvellous research of 2013 concerning the four Clear's brothers who were members of our club over 110 years ago.
The Percy Clears memorial cup was originally presented in 1926. The heats were held on Wednesday 2 June with the final on Saturday 5 June. J C L R Brittan won the trophy.
Ange Johnson was the first winner of the re-introduced Percy Clears cup in 2013
Neil and Solveig popped back across the pond for the 2015 race
Clare Doyle has presented the cup since 2018
2021 almost back to normal, but not with the normal, historic 1930s table (for the moment)
11 years ago Clare was involved in a Serpentine SC relay team that swam the length of Loch Ness to raise funds for a medical charity in Afghanistan. This followed on from a Channel relay in September 2008.
They scoured the horizon for the Loch Ness monster, but to no avail. Was Nessie hiding in plain sight all the time?
Afghan Mother and Child Rescue
Afghan Mother and Child Rescue (AMCR) was a charity with which Serpentine member Roddy Jones was heavily involved. The charity was a small hands-on organisation focussed on building and helping equip Mother and Child Health Clinics in the Panjshir valley region of northeast Afghanistan.
The Loch Ness relay swim was reported on the club website - click here for more detail and photos, including links to a report by BBC Scotland.
Two years earlier, on 14 September 2008, Clare and the team made a successful relay crossing of the English Channel in 23 hours and 16 minutes. Sadly we do not have any photos to hand of the event, so the next best thing is a report on the BBC News site.
The Independent on Sunday carried a story on Roddy Jones and the AMCR charity on 2 December 2007
Evan Roderick ‘Roddy’ Lionel Jones passed away in April 2017, just short of his 83rd birthday.