Sidmouth’s Tony is still rowing strong at 87

Tony Faulkner, a mere 87-years-young, who raced in the Sidmouth Gig Club men’s C crew and who took a

Tony Faulkner, a mere 87-years-young, who raced in the Sidmouth Gig Club men’s C crew and who took a bow at the end of the race. - Credit: Archant

Abstinence from smoking, drinking and red meat are the secrets to keeping fit through the years, according to an 87-year-old Sidmouth great-granddad who still enjoys hitting the waves with the town’s gig racing club.

Tony Faulkner (pictured) is the oldest member of the group, but the Malden Close resident still has the energy to cycle the three-mile round-trip to the seafront and back home again after rowing.

At the Lyme Regis Regatta earlier this month, the Sidmouth men’s and women’s gig crews were on duty, racing across a range of categories in the club’s boat Keith Owen.

But it was the town’s C crew that drew the most attention on the day as they had Tony among their number.

Post-race he took a bow on the pontoon - and got the afternoon’s biggest cheer.

Sidmothian Tony, whose varied career saw him serve in the Royal Navy and Metropolitan Police, as well as working on a physiotherapy ward in an Australian hospital, said he started keeping fit while living Down Under.

He told the Herald: “When I was about 40, a friend mentioned she was going to enter the 14-kilometre Sydney City2Surf race, so I thought I’d try it.

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“I only trained for a week, but I managed to finish it. I started running all the time after that.”

After returning to Sidmouth, the former King’s School pupil kept fit with regular runs and cycle rides, before joining up with the gig racing club in 2012.

He said: “I’ve always been interested in wooden boats, so I thought I’d join and give it a try.

“It is not something you want to enter lightly - you do need to be pretty fit and you are definitely going to get wet.

“We are still quite a young club but we do the competitions for fun - we’re always happy if there are still other boats behind us when we finish!”

Asked what the secret to his healthy lifestyle was, Tony said: “I don’t smoke and I don’t drink, I don’t eat red meat and I exercise three times-a-day.

“I suppose I’ve never really stopped!”

The gig club offers short taster rows to people interested in joining the group.

Call Colin on 01395 516532 or email to book a place.