ONE of the district’s young rowers was part of the winning Oxford University crew in the Lightweight Boat Race.

Hexham’s Nick Ryan (19) was at the bow of the eight man Blue Boat in the race against Cambridge, on Saturday.

The contest for lightweight crews was traditionally part of the Henley Boat Races, from Phyllis Court to Temple Island along the famous ‘Henley Reach’ on London’s River Thames.

But this year, for the first time, the 45th lightweight contest took place over full championship course, ahead of the main Boat Race, which will take place on Sunday, April 7.

Nick, a former member of Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School Rowing Club, played a key role as the Oxford crew won by three lengths.

Oxford won the toss and selected the Surrey side of the tideway, but it was Cambridge who took the early lead, which they maintained past the Middlesex bend, and Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club.

Oxford began to make up the gap, and with the Surrey bend in their favour, they moved into the lead, which they held on to despite the valiant attempts of Cambridge.

In the warm-up event to the race, Nick’s sister Lucy was part of the winning Tideway Scullers, the women’s eight which defeated the reserve Oxford University women’s crew, named Osiris.

Pauline Higgins, of Queen Elizabeth Rowing Club, said: “We’re delighted that Nick was in the winning crew, and it was a great day for the Ryan family with Lucy winning too.”

Last year, Nick won gold at the National Championships in Nottingham, and was named young sportsman of the year at the Sport Tynedale awards. In his first year at Oxford, Nick is studying maths.