Hansel’s son Tim informed the school that his father had died on 4 June 2013. Tim sent us the following obituary:
Hansel Beechey-Newman attended MCS between 1946 and 1952. Hansel joined the Boat Club and in spite of being relatively light eventually earned himself a position in the First Eight. Rowing was not a major sport at MCS and thus, in order to do more of the sport they loved, Hansel and some other boys formed the Sculloars Boat Club, which privately funded attendance at Regattas to which the school was not sending crews and whose members rowed to the Isis Tavern at Iffley Lock on a Sunday. The Club had its own tie, which after leaving MCS Hansel kept for all these years, only passing it on to one of his sons six months before he died.
MCS was certainly not a top rowing school at this time, but later in life and quite by chance Hansel was to discover that it had not always been thus. In the 1980s, he came across a Henley medal won by MCS in the Public Schools Challenge Cup – an event for schools fours offered for six years only from 1879 to 1884 – and he was able to purchase the medal for the School archives.
In 1952 Hansel began his National Service, which he served with the RAF. In 1953 he was stationed in Winnipeg, Canada, where he lost no time in joining the local rowing club, and his crew won the Junior Lightweight Fours at the North-West International Regatta that year.
He went up to St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1954, where he met a pretty nurse called Anne, whom he married in 1958. They were together for 54 years – until her death in 2012 – and had three sons. As soon as he arrived at St Edmund Hall Hansel joined the boat club and made it into the First Eight. Although not captain at this time he immediately pressed the club to implement some of the training and discipline he had learnt in the RAF. This included refusing to train with any member of the crew who turned up to a session with a hangover! His efforts soon bore fruit – in Torpids the following term the Teddy Hall First Eight won their blades by getting a bump on each of the five days over which the event was run at that time.
Hansel was elected Captain in 1955 and continued to work to improve rowing at the College. According to one of the letters received by his family from a fellow member of the First Eight at the time, ‘he organised and set up the Rowing Club to become the most successful of all the Oxford Colleges at the time’. According to another member of SEHBC at that time, the rowing section of the College notice board was headed ‘Rowing – An all-weather sport’, and in times of bad weather, when other College teams were cancelling their training sessions, Boat Club training took place regardless. Hansel’s leadership pushed SEH on to greater things and in 1958 the College won the Ladies Plate – the last Oxford College to do so. In 1959 the College went Head in Summer Bumps, which position it held for a further four years out of the following six.
After Oxford, Hansel went into management consultancy based in London, but after two or three years of this he opted for a better life by moving with his young family to Falmouth in Cornwall, where he became a jeweller, gemmologist and valuer. It was not long before he became involved with the local rowing club – Greenbank – who at this time raced in Flash Boats. Hansel persuaded them that if they moved to sliding seat rowing they would be able to widen their competition, and to this end he bought them an old four from the local Police force. From this time onwards Greenbank competed on the wider West of England Amateur Rowing Association (WEARA) circuit and in spite of tougher competition the First Four continued their previous success, winning the WEARA championships 11 times between 1978 and 2000. Hansel was also behind the club’s appearance at Henley Royal Regatta in the early 70s – the first Cornish Club to do so, and was Treasurer of WEARA from 1978 to 1985.