Today we said farewell to one of the club’s most successful competitors of the 1950s and 1960s at a small ceremony when the ashes of Keith Yates were scattered in the River Wear by his widow Anne.
Keith was the cox of DARC’s first four between 1958 to 1962 during the period when they achieved a remarkable five consecutive victories in the Grand Challenge Cup at Durham Regatta as well as winning numerous other events throughout the north of England.
A gathering in the clubhouse after the ceremony was attended by friends including Bill Parker and Ian Shepherd, crewmates from the winning four. As DARC President Ian Shepherd explained “The ashes were spread at the Regatta start where the ashes of his great friend Michael Wardman were spread”.
Fellow cox Michael Wardman is remembered through the Wardman Yates Challenge Cup one of Durham Regatta’s collection of historic trophies, donated by Keith following Michael’s death.
In more recent times Keith is best remembered as Durham Regatta’s long serving senior commentator, a voice very familiar to many who have attended the Regatta over the years. After his successful coxing career Keith moved away from the area in 1962 to set up a business in Nottingham but continued his association with his beloved Durham Regatta, returning each year and commentating at the event from 1976 for over 40 years, his final commentary being in 2018.
He died at his home in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire aged 79 on January 1st 2019. Anne Yates said after his death “Keith’s beloved Durham Regatta will continue, but without his lovely voice and the information that he so loved to share with members of the public.”
Photo by The Northern Echo shows Keith celebrating his 60th year at Durham Regatta in 2013.