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Giving to the Lady Margaret Boat Club

Open to novices and veterans alike, the Lady Margaret Boat Club provides a home for every Johnian to enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of rowing.

The largest society in St John’s, the Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC) invites all members of College to pick up an oar and experience the most historical Oxbridge sport. Founded in 1825, the LMBC is also the oldest boat club on the Cam and has been the setting of countless friendships and triumphant memories, eliciting a loyalty like no other. We hope that former members will continue to encourage the successes of the LMBC by ensuring that financial struggles don’t limit the competitive edge of its rowers.

Learn more about the latest crews and committee members on the LMBC website.

What the LMBC means to me…

Men’s crews

The best thing about the Club is that, like me, most members have never touched an oar before. Only three of the nine 2016’s LMBC Men’s Headship crew had learnt to row before arriving at St John’s. Anyone can get involved, everyone is on a level playing field. Once you’re in the boat, everything else is forgotten.

We began 2016’s campaign as third on the river, and by the time we finally caught Caius and the Headship (the first in 27 years!) on our final day, there was only a quarter of the course left to go. A revolutionised coaching structure, funded by alumni, made a huge difference to our performance and deserves enormous credit for our success that year. An integral part of our victory was the equipment we used. Through the Annual Fund we were able to invest in a top-of-the-range new VIII+ boat for M1 to row in. Two weeks before the Bumps, the additional financial support of the LMBCA meant we were able to purchase a new set of lighter oars for the M1 crew.

The heritage of the LMBC lives with all of its members for the rest of their lives. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a small part of its history, and I am deeply grateful to those who continue to donate their time and money to the LMBC.

Hatem Sadik (2013), Medicine – Men’s Captain 2015/16, Honorary Secretary 2016/17

Women’s crews

Over three years, the LMBC and W1 have given me so many memories I now cherish and such pride in our progress. The Women’s side have gone from strength to strength, with W1 pushing up to fifth on the river in both the Lents (with strong row overs each day!) and Mays. The generous donation of the Hudson VIII+ funded by the College and LMBCA members was instrumental in our success – I can confidently say that we were a completely different crew after the introduction of the new boat. As soon as we tried it out, we all noticed the difference. It was so much lighter, attentive and, most importantly, faster than anything we had had the pleasure of rowing in before.

My hope for the future is that the Women’s side will continue to advance and move up to Headship positions like the Men’s eventually did; an attainable ambition because of the generous alumni who make it possible to compete in a sport that can be prohibitively expensive. I myself would have never been able to afford to take up rowing at St John’s if it weren’t for the LMBCA donations, which assist with the purchase of new equipment, funding races (such as Henley Women’s) and contributing towards the cost of training camps. I, and the Women’s side as a whole, are sincerely grateful for their continued support.

Rachael Speed (2017), Land Economy Women’s Captain 2019/20

Supporting the LMBC

Training camps give the opportunity for novices to progress to the senior squads and allow them to completely focus on rowing and participate regardless of their financial circumstances.

In Cambridge, coaches of the highest calibre are needed to ensure that squads benefit from the strongest expertise year-round. 

As much as rowing ability matters, equipment can make athletes row better, go faster and truly reach their physical potential. Competitive racing (most particularly the Bumps) put equipment through immense wear and tear, and St John’s endeavours to replace blades, boats and land-training machines on a rolling old-for-new basis.

The LMBC Current Use Fund supports a range of costs each year, including crew training camps and race entry fees, transportation and accommodation for the Henley regattas and other off-Cam races.

Expenditure examples:

– Subsidised training camps cost £1,000 per side per year.

– Blades for a crew cost £3,500.

– Race entries on the Cam (including Bumps) cost £4,000 per year.

– Race entries off the Cam (including Henley) cost £6,000 per year .

– Boats: a new VIII costs £35,000 and a IV shell costs £20,000.

The Annual Fund has supported the LMBC in recent years through the purchase of racing shells.

The LMBC Endowment is an investment pot from which the annual distribution is used to cover significant annual expenditure, such as the constant upkeep of the Boathouse and the salaries of a full-time Boatman and a part-time professional coach for the teams competing at a higher level. Give to this fund to guarantee the future security of the LMBC.

Sponsors finance the more modest day-to-day Club expenditures in a given year. These include smaller equipment items, weights training at the University gym, British rowing membership and overnight accommodation for visiting coaches. Previous supporters have been Oliver Wyman and D E Shaw.

The LMBC looks for companies to support the club for at least one academic year. Businesses can look forward to their name emblazoned on the back of all kit, visible at every race. If your company would like to do a good deed and benefit from the tax breaks of supporting an educational charity, email

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Give to the Lady Margaret Boat Club

Your donations help with the purchase of essential training equipment, facilitate training camps and secure the most experienced professional coaches. To support the LMBC please follow our ‘donate’ button and select ‘Other’ from the dropdown menu and type in ‘LMBC Current Use’ or ‘LMBC Endowment’.