THE victories of British rowers at Eton’s rowing centre has convinced the college’s largely disaffected pupils that they too can make a success of themselves.
Forced to survive on charitable handouts, Eton College has long sheltered some of the UK’s most alienated, parentally neglected and disaffected young males.
But role models such as Alex Gregory, who took gold in the coxless fours, have given hope to Etonian youngsters that they can ‘strike gold’ in the games of life.
Eton’s careers adviser Denys Finch Hatton said: “Pupils at Eton have always had to struggle with society’s prejudices. They have been viciously stereotyped, in comic strips like Lord Snooty in The Beano and pop songs such as Eton Rifles.
“When everyone is telling you that you’re just some happy-go-lucky twerp in a shiny top hat, it’s bound to affect your self-esteem and life chances. For years, the future looked bleak for most of these kids once they’d left school – bumming idly around Cambodia in gap years, frittering away their trust funds, snowboarding, smashing up restaurants.
“Thanks, however, to the Olympic boost, the boys are buzzing with self-belief – they’re coming to me with ideas of becoming investment bankers, senior hedge fund managers – useful, productive members of society.
“The turning point was David Cameron breaking down barriers to become British Prime Minister. 20 years ago I’d never have dared dream an Etonian would occupy Number 10 in my lifetime.
“Now, seeing how well these rowers have done in their own back yards, there’s no telling what heights these boys might reach. A lot of them are forming indie rock groups, which is great – the more old Etonians there are in the world of entertainment, the more young Etonians will find the courage to emulate them.
“People think of Etonians as the scum of society but they’re a huge resource – they have a wealth of wealth which, given the right encouragement, they can use to make the very best of their lives.”