Inquest opens into death of Cleadon rowing coach who died in River Wear tragedy

Bill Grant at the Durham Amateur rowing club in 2011.
Bill Grant at the Durham Amateur rowing club in 2011.
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AN inquest into the death of a rowing coach who died while training a crew was due to be held today.

Bill Grant was riding alongside the River Wear in Durham on Saturday, February 28, when it is thought he became ill and fell from his bike.

Mr Grant, 67, from Cleadon, fell into the water, sparking a rescue effort by two of the coxed four team he had been working with.

They jumped into the river to help him, while other students, including a medical graduate who had been out jogging, also helped other passers-by as they created a chain to pull him clear.

After the alarm was raised, a paramedic borrowed another coach’s bike to cycle along the riverside path to get to the scene, with the Great North Air Ambulance also called in to try to save him.

Despite their efforts and those of the emergency services at the scene of the incident, in between Prebends Bridge and Kingsgate Bridge, Mr Grant died.

An inquest into his death was to be held this morning at the coroner’s court in at Crook Civic Centre, County Durham. Mr Grant, a former jeweller, whose family ran a jewellery shop in King Street, South Shields, was survived by his wife, Jenny, and three children, Richard, then 22, Catherine, 20, and Emma 19.

Mr Grant’s passion for rowing began when he was a student at Durham University and he went on to spend more than 30 years with the city’s amateur rowing club, visiting its boat house near Old Elvet most days.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Martin Judson, chairman of Durham Amateur Rowing Club, said: “He was one of these types who volunteer for things and he was a team player and always asked how he could help.

“He was one of our boat wardens and we have around 80 to maintain and he would help with that and do the lion’s share to look after the boats.

“He always went to where he could be most useful and he was training to become one of our level three coaches, which would have made him one of three with the club.

“We’re not sure how we will fill his boots.”

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