Stratford’s Adaptives sponsored by Listers Toyota!

Following on from the 2020 Paralympic Games run in Tokyo in 2021 when Toyota worldwide sponsored the Paralympic Games, local Stratford company Listers Toyota have come to the aid of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s ever growing adaptive section with sponsorship for 2022

Listers Toyota Stratford is the official Toyota dealer for Stratford upon Avon and offers a wide range of new and used Toyota vehicles and also can provide small business and fleet services as well as servicing and parts and is situated in Stratford upon Avon town centre, just off the Birmingham Road, near the Maybird Shopping Park.

Listers Group Limited also has their head office at the Stratford Business and Technology Park: founded in 1979 when the company opened their first business in Coventry, the focus has always been to put the customer first. Over forty years later, this focus has helped the business grow to over fifty dealerships and service centres across England, becoming one of the largest family-owned automotive businesses in the UK, representing eighteen of the most-recognised and prestigious brands.

Said Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President, “Being associated with caring local successful businesses in the area is very important to the Club as we share their commitment to the area’s prosperity and wellbeing. Listers Toyota Stratford’s sponsorship of the adaptive section for the year is much appreciated and helps us to offer sport and recreation to a wider spectrum of adaptive athletes.”

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Adaptive Head Coach, said, “We first came in contact with Listers Toyota Stratford through Toyota worldwide sponsorship of the recent Paralympic Games and then during the adaptive section’s celebration having won Parasport ‘Club of the Year’. Listers Toyota Stratford’s sponsorship has gone towards equipment for the adaptive section and the whole Club funding recent much needed equipment such as a stable two person multipurpose boat (double); fixed seats which allow those with paraplegia or with severe low limb impairment to row; narrow riggers which allow those with lower limb impairment to propel the boat more effectively; pair riggers which allow those with one sided and/or dexterity issues to row with a single oar if they cannot use two; a bucket seat which benefits cerebral palsy

© Courtesy of Mark Williamson, Stratford Herald

sufferers and grip aids to assist those lacking dexterity.”

Colin Upchurch, the Club’s Vice President said, “The synergy between the Club and Listers Toyota Stratford has been pivotal for the Club as whole, enabling us to continue to move forward and offer sport for all in the local community. Recently we have used Listers Toyota Stratford’s sponsorship to fund additional racking for our boats and a wheelchair height tap for our athletes to fill their water bottles, essential progress for all. We are most grateful to Richard Burt and Joseph Hawkins at Listers Toyota Stratford for their sponsorship.”

For media coverage see Stratford Herald page fifty two and online and Stratford Observer

Stratford out in force at Stourport!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force to Stourport Boat Club’s Small Boats Winter Head on Sunday. The J18 Club squad was racing in the afternoon, with Martha Usselmann, Isabella Sandland, Hannah Broome, and Elisabeth Edwards competing in the WJ18 coxless quads. This was the first race for half of the crew and it started off well with Stratford putting a good distance between them and the next crew. Passing the Stourport clubhouse, Stratford overtook an eight and in the last few metres of the race were overtaken by another quad in a dramatic race to the finish. Although finishing fourth, the girls greatly enjoyed the race and hope to be back again soon at the same venue.

For the J16 squad, it was the first event of 2022 which saw a very bright and sunny mid winter’s day for the J16 girls’ crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxed by Imogen Hill. Competing for the first time in a coxed sweep boat, they literally swept away their completion from Trentham Boat Club, winning their event by fifty nine seconds in a fantastic time of 14:08 minutes. Commenting, Steve Marsden, J16 Coach, said, “The girls provided a great demonstration of sweep rowing at pace, guided expertly by the cox to accelerate across the finish line in front of a large group of spectators. Unfortunately, the girls’ coxless quad were unable to compete and this slightly dampened the day.”

Both Stratford Boat Club WJ15 4x+ crews performed extremely well on the 3.8km Stourport course downstream, narrowly missing out on Gold against Trentham Boat Club, who finished in a winning time of 14.07. The WJ15x+ squad did beat crews from Evesham, AB Severn and Stourport. After a long wait in the marshaling area, they sustained their technique for the complete distance, rating at up to 35spm. The girls were very pleased with their performance, surprised not to have won, but that is the nature of the great sport of rowing: sometimes an unexpected entrant comes along and takes the spoils! J15 Coach Hugo Happel said, “The girls did Stratford proud with some very fine technique sustained over 3.8km: they should reflect on their achievement and celebrate until Tuesday at least, when some more character-building land training awaits once more!”

For some of Stratford’s J14 athletes, this was their first ever head race, and at a lengthy 3.8km, it was a baptism of fire! Due to logistical challenges, the J14’s had one crew race up an age category in Open J15 coxed quad facing challenging competition. Despite this, the crew of James Albrighton (cox), Alexandra Francis, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins and Poppy Baines got off to a flying start, holding their own against the older boys’ crews the whole way down the course, not making it easy for their competition right the way to the final stroke. They were shortly followed by the WJ14 coxed quad of Sophie Evans (cox), Alice Jones, Meg Nuttall, Lily Warren and Lucy Yang for which it was their first outing in the combination. It was a gutsy row, going hard off the start and showing off their technical skill even at the tail end of the course when their competition were faltering. In the second division with the cold creeping in, the open J14 coxed quad of Alexandra Francis (cox), James Albrighton, Ollie Rowlands, Theo Richter and Sophie Evans proved they were made of tough stuff, holding off a strong crew for over half the course and powering through to the finish with their heads held high.

Stourport Winter Head marked the first race also for King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club for twenty three months. Not only this but the crew were now with an entirely new squad and it was the first race for the boys in the coxed four (J. Mitchell, T. Wheeler, E. Craig, R. Macdonald, E. Rose), three of whom only started learning to row last September. With some excitement and a bit of nerves, the crew took everything in their stride: they were the third crew off in their category so had two targets ahead of them. Half way down the course, they successfully picked off the first of their opposition putting in a push to power past the crew from Hereford which left them with our friends from Stratford Boat Club to chase down! They didn’t have enough water to catch Stratford but the squad finished in an impressive time winning their category by just over one minute.

Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Masters were also at Stourport competing in a coxed four. Commenting, Dave Edwards, Masters’ Vice Captain said. “In fairness, we beat the other masters in that group by over a minute, so not too bad a row even though we were beaten by a very much younger crew!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty one and also Stratford Observer online

For more great pictures of Stourport Head, see Kathy Baines’ selection!AgY7EiDB2lCOhPwCJoS_zRzcEKRK3g?e=6t7Ryt

Stratford Triumph at Northampton and at Home

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters ladies Gina Fusco and Christine Goodwin continued their racing journey this weekend with a trip to Northampton Rowing Club to compete in the Northampton Head of the Nene.

The race saw the double swap seats in their new combination for the first time with Gina setting the rate and rhythm at stroke and Christine steering at bow.

A great fast start saw them settle into their race plan quickly and row the course fluently and with new precision, resulting in a medal win in their category by eleven seconds over their Northampton rivals.

The athletes commented, “We felt we rowed a good race and our legs gave us the power we needed. Special thanks to our coaches Colin and Dani for their continued guidance and encouragement and also to Robert for being our patient support vehicle. There is still lots to work to be put in going forward but it has been great to have the training pay off.”

Gina and Christine are affectionately known as ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ by their Stratford Boat Club colleagues, a reference to their matching kit and general mischief in the boat!

Meanwhile, athletes back in Stratford took part in their own mini head race on Saturday on the upstream stretch of the Avon. This was the Club’s second mini head with five crews taking part. Run 1 starting just past Fisherman’s car park to upstream to the top where the boats turned ready for Run 2 returning downstream to the car park. Two crews then returned to the Club with the other three competing in Run 3 and Run 4. The focus was on the results for Runs 1 and 2 only where the times are averaged out to provide a ranking.

Coxless and coxed fours, quads, doubles and a single all took part: the overall ranking for Run 1 and 2 was calculated with the results adjusted for age and boat type. Commenting, Chris Belcher, Midweek Rowers’ Vice Captain and organiser of the mini head said, “A big ‘thank you’ to the two launch drivers, timekeepers, result recorders and helpers who made the event possible. We will do it all again in the spring, hopefully with more single scullers to make the event more challenging!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and and Stratford Observer on the back sports page and online

Onwards to 2022!

In celebration of Christmas, the athletes from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club took to the water on Sunday for their annual Boxing Day Scratch Regatta. In a change from the usual format, Club members raced in the more sturdy boats due to the river conditions following the traditional Warwickshire Christmas Day downpour!

Crews were formed of current members and former Club members at home in the area for the festive period. The excesses of Christmas Day did little to dampen the competitive spirit amongst the crews on the water and each of the morning races was hotly contested.

Successfully making it through the early rounds, the stage was set for the final between “Puddings” (Cameron Dalrymple-Baker, Martha Usselmann, Talei Dunn, Alice Baines and Matilda Watts) and “Pies” (Richard Aitchison, Katie Phillips, Katie Wellstead, Tomi Wilcock and Beth Edwards). A clash of blades and suspect steering forced a re-row of the final race and in the repeat attempt, a clean race saw “Puddings” triumph by half a length – a just result for the season!

Athletes were supported by family members and members of the public and Christmas visitors to the town also came down to watch the spectacle and cheer: the crews were supported by Club volunteers driving the safety launch and acting as scorers.

Dr Graham Collier, Vice Chairman said, “All races were over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon.” The racing provided great interest to early morning sightseers and visitors watching from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge. Said Dawson Curnock, Chairman of Stratford Boat Club, “The scratch regatta caught the imagination of all who came down to the river and this year’s racing included many more juniors and it was good to welcome many athletes home from university.”

Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and competitor said, “It was great to have such a mix of members competing and especially spectator parents and families. Their participation in the running of the Club has been a great bonus as they bring management and organizational skills to the Club as well as offering their time and effort volunteering and carrying out maintenance and other jobs.”

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club will be back on the river this New Year weekend and after the New Year, athletes will be training hard for the 2022 head season and the Club’s own regatta in June.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page thirty seven. Also Stratford Observer online and back sports page

For more great pictures of our Boxing Day Scratch Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ selection!AiQkY1SNwjpDgoxheTOWymdH16IC3Q?e=U2U7By

Stratford Boat Club Works with Local Sponsor

Christmas came early for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club last Thursday when local company NLA VW Parts, based in nearby Clifford Chambers, took on the sponsorship of the Club’s training and safety launch Patience

NLA VW Parts is an UK based company with the facility and capacity of designing, modifying and innovating those no longer available Volkswagen parts. Established in 2008 and having run for over thirteen years, founders Adam and Teresa are passionate VW collectors who own T2 splits screens, T2 Bay-windows and T25s Beetles. Their dream is to remanufacture all the unavailable VW parts to allow vehicles to stay on the road forever, with new designs if required, and with the best use of materials

As the parts are made by themselves, the high quality control and level of service is second to none. Said Adam Yang, Managing Director and Co-owner of NLA VW Parts, “We are very proud of our products and service and know that they are the best available to the market as we faithfully reproduce them and test and fit them on our own VWs before we offer them for sale to our customers!”

Commenting, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, said, “We welcome the chance to be working closely with local Warwickshire companies and organisations and NLA VW Parts’ generous sponsorship of our training and safety launch will ensure that Patience’s fuel and maintenance will be secured for the future. NLA VW Parts and their sister company Cool Out Ltd are putting back into the local community we all work and live in and their sponsorship makes our sport more accessible and safer”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty five and online and Stratford Observer online

Stratford’s Dewdney Gets Life!

Not only does Stratford upon Avon Boat Club think that Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach, is ‘the bees’ knees’ but this was confirmed by British Rowing, the sport’s governing body, when they awarded Mark with the West Midlands area Lifetime Achievement Award!

This year, British Rowing had a huge number of nominations for the awards from right across the country and so it’s been a tough job for British Rowing’s judging panels to narrow them all down to this year’s shortlist. British Rowing took time out to thank everyone who made a nomination and congratulations to the volunteers, coaches, clubs, crews and other rowers who have been selected for this year’s shortlist.

Mark’s West Midland’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ will also go forward for consideration for British Rowing’s national award, selected from British Rowing’s shortlist, and this will be announced in a live webcast on 20 January alongside the winners of British Rowing’s Medal of Honour, Medal of Merit, Beryl Crockford Award and National Safety Award. All winners will be visited by a British Rowing official at their club to receive their award in person, following the webcast.

Commenting, Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President said, “We are very proud of Mark and all that he has achieved not only for the ever increasing successful adaptive section but for Stratford Boat Club as a collegiate whole. Mark’s considerable success in raising funds for the adaptive squad has had a ‘trickle down’ effect for the whole Club making more equipment available for juniors, seniors, masters, weekday rowers, Learn to Row and Junior Summer camp participants as well as the adaptive section.”

Joe Moore, Senior Adaptive Coach, said,” Mark’s recent success of having Stratford Boat Club awarded ‘ParaSport Club of the Year’ has now been followed by British Rowing’s accolade: the Club’s hopes are high for Mark’s National Award!”

For an expanded article on Mark’s accolade, see Stratford Observer online also page back sports page Stratford Herald page fifty six and online

Stratford Clean Up Indoors and at Wycliffe!

The weekend saw a welcome return to racing on the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal for the annual Wycliffe Small Boats Head.  Held over 2500m, the Wycliffe event always attracts quality crews from around the region and for the 42nd edition the competition did not disappoint.  As the wildfowl of the nearby Wetland Trust stirred from their slumber, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes pushed off to get racing underway in Division 1. The WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Lucy Yang (cox), Poppy Baines, Alexandra Francis, Meg Nuttall and Lily Warren were first down the course. Surging past a quality outfit from Hereford Cathedral School, the girls went on to take the bronze medal.  Later in Division 3, the open J14 coxed quadruple scull of James Albrighton (cox), Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, Sophie Evans and Alice Jones delivered more hardware with a commanding row to take the silver medal.

Stratford’s J15 athletes continued their initiation to head racing and came back with an impressive medal haul. Lucy Sartain won Silver in the WJ15 1x category, beating the girls from Wallingford Rowing Club. Will Dalrymple-Baker won Bronze in the OJ15 1x in 11:58.9, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High, Dart Totnes and Wallingford Rowing Club. Will and Jamie Wilcock collected Bronze in the OJ15 2x, in 10:37.9, beating crews from QPH, Dart Totnes, Kings Worcester, Hereford and Monmouth.

Charles Happel was the only J16 competing in the OJ16 1x event, and set a Silver medal winning time of 11:11.6, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High and Hereford Cathedral.

The day started early for Stratford’s J17/18 Performance squad in Division 1, with Toby Sartain and Will Beattie finishing third in the open doubles event. Freya Watts (WJ17) and Amelie Sartain (WJ18) also competed in their respective singles races, both placing second overall. Later in Division 2, they raced alongside Fleur Griffiths and Lucy Browne in the WJ18 quad event, competing against fellow teammates Ruby Howells, Harriet Holmes, Martha Usselmann and Elisabeth Edwards. In a field of stiff competition, the girls finished eleventh and twelfth respectively. Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie also raced in Division 2, placing fifth in the open J18 doubles event. With the wind picking up in Division 3, Martha Usselmann stepped into the WJ18 doubles event to replace an injured teammate to row with Harriet Holmes, the pair achieving a strong fourth place, just ahead of Fleur Griffiths and Ruby Howells who finished fifth. The open J17 singles event rounded off the day for the squad, with Tomi Wilcock coming in second, and Toby Sartain just after in third.

Christine Goodwin and Gina Fusco, Stratford Masters also competed in the doubles event.

This weekend was also the annual British Rowing Indoor Championships which this year took place in a fully virtual format.  Athletes competed for glory from living rooms, conservatories, garden sheds and garages across the globe. In her first year of rowing, Cara Berisford-Murray represented Stratford upon Avon Boat Club in both 500m and 3min races for Year Eight girls’ category. In a thrilling three minute event, Cara walked through the field to secure the Silver medal just 1.5 lengths behind the winner.  Not satisfied with one medal, Cara went on to dominate the 500m sprint event taking Gold.  Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J13 coach said, “A truly magnificent start to her rowing career and results of which she can be proud!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and online and also Stratford Observer online and back sports page

For more great pictures of Wycliffe Small Boats Head, see Stuart Baines’ selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9j4MIWDlZpSwGKK7L_w?e=rYDQUC

Stratford and Upton Team Up To Conquer The Tideway!

Veterans’ Fours Head of the River 2021

Sunday saw the first resumption after lock down of the National Veteran Fours head of the river race in London on Sunday. The event held over the varsity boat race championship course but in the reverse direction from Mortlake to Putney, a distance of 4.25 miles. The head attracted a full field of 227 entries from across the country with competitors from 27 years of age up to 70.

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was represented by Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty rowing in a mixed quad (two blades each) with colleagues Tabatha and Julian Scrivener from Upton Rowing Club in the Masters’ E age group category (55 to 60 years).

The crew which has been training together over the past two months came to the Tideway on the back of a good win at Gloucester Head and were eagerly looking forward to the challenge of racing some of the best mixed quads in the country. With two past winners in their age group event from Maidenhead and Bewel Bridge/Tideway scullers and a quality Molesey crew making up the field the race was going to be a serious challenge.

Unusual benign conditions for the Tideway saw all 237 crews racing off at 10 second intervals: in a fast start for Upton/Stratford, the crew settled into a consistent 32/33 strokes per minute for the whole 4.5 mile course in an effort to keep their immediate competitors who were starting behind at a safe distance.

The Thames is never without its challenges and some blustery conditions around Barnes Bridge tested the technique of all racing crews. Settling into a fast hard rhythm keeping the boat speed split times continually below 1:40 for the whole course, Upton/Stratford crew began to pull away from Bewel/Tideway Scullers and Maidenhead and then had to focus on overtaking a number of men’s boats ahead of them as they proceeded down the course.

Lungs were burning by the time the crew reached Hammersmith Bridge but still more effort was required with the race far from finished. Chasing a very fast and ultimate younger age group event winner from Bridgnorth in a mixed quad just ahead of them, helped the crew to maintain the pace and effort all the way to a very welcome finish line by Putney Bridge.

The results when they came were both a pleasure and a pain for Stratford/Upton who after a very good row saw them finish 67th overall out of 237 entries and beating both previous age group winners Bewel Bridge/Tideway Scullers (23 mins.27.4sec) and Maidenhead (22 mins.33.9sec.), in a time of 22 mins. 2.3secs.

In a cruel twist of fate, Stratford/Upton were pipped for a medal by Molesey who finished in a time of 22mins.2. a mere two tenths of a second quicker over the 22 minute race!

Once the tears had died down, the crew was able to reflect on an excellent race having beaten amongst others over 15 means quad crews in similar or younger age groups representing all the big London Clubs.

Said Tom Doherty “We had an absolutely superb race and we couldn’t have done any more and the crew were superb .The boat has been getting faster and faster as the weeks have progressed and we will put our disappointment behind us and look ahead to further races with confidence!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page fifty nine and Stratford Observer online and back sports page:

We Will Remember Them

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club took time out of their training on Sunday morning to honour those who fell in the World Wars and other conflicts and observe a two minutes’ silence on Remembrance Sunday. The Club’s thoughts were led by the Club’s President, Paul Stanton

Wreaths were laid at the memorial in the Club grounds by the Club’s youngest member Sophie Franklin and Colin Upchurch, the Club’s oldest member: sixty five years separate their rowing experience! Last year, amidst the Covid lock down, the Club’s President made the act of remembrance and laid the wreath on behalf of the Club on his own

All the crews and rowers came off the water and from their indoor training during a busy Remembrance Sunday to attend the act of remembrance. Said Dawson Curnock, Stratford Boat Club’s Chairman, “The memorial is at the heart of the Club and our sporting life goes on around it: this was an opportunity for us all to stop, reflect and remember those Stratford Boat Club members who died so that we can live in peace and enjoy our sport”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page twenty one and Stratford Observer online and page two in Friday’s edition and online edition:

Stratford Boat Club Has A Weekend of Thanks


The weekend was a busy one for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and on Saturday the Club welcomed many dignitaries to help the Club celebrate the addition of several boats to the fleet. After a short welcome, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, took the opportunity of thanking those who had donated the funds to buy the boats and to congratulate Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach, who had co- and spearheaded the fundraising. Commenting, Paul Stanton said, “The arrival of the new boats will not only be a great benefit to the adaptive section but to the whole Club: the boats will be used for Learn to Row courses, the summer junior camps, weekday rowers, juniors, seniors and masters – able-bodied and adaptive athletes alike”

First to name a boat were Cllr Kevin Taylor, Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, and Mrs Pauline Taylor, Mayoress: the double scull that they named was ‘Lucetta’, Waiting Women to Julia in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. This stable double scull has been purchased with the help of Sport England

The Club has benefited considerably from Cllr Tony Jackson’s Mayor’s Charitable Fund during his term of office as the previous Mayor of Stratford and so it was fitting that Tony and his wife Mandy were called upon to name the next boat ‘Julia’, Lady of Verona again from Two Gentlemen of Verona

Stratford Boat Club has had a long association with The Shakespeare Lions and their sponsorship and encouragement of young adults to achieve their potential: Peter Humberstone, representing The Shakespeare Lions, named a single scull ‘Silvia’, the Duke of Milan’s Daughter. This single scull has been purchased with the help of The Rowing Foundation who also provided funds towards the new ramp which enables adaptive rowers to access the boating area more easily

For some considerable time, Stratford Boat Club has had an adaptive launch called ‘Juno’ but due to Covid restrictions, it had not been possible to ‘name’ the boat formally. The specially designed safety craft has a bow ramp which can be lowered to rescue any capsized adaptive athlete and having this capability has meant that the adaptive squad has been able to offer rowing to a wider circle of athletes. The adaptive launch ‘Juno’ was bought with the help of donations from Henley Regatta Charitable Trust and is sponsored by Salts Healthcare, is one of the UK’s oldest, family-run companies that has grown to become a highly successful international medical device manufacturer. Naming ‘Juno’ was Mrs Caroline Salt, Director of Salts Healthcare, and Mrs Annabelle Salt-Forster. Both Caroline and Annabelle were former rowing members of Stratford Boat Club along with Phil Salt, former Captain of the Club

Also thanked for their contributions and support were Cliff Armstrong, President of the Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon; The Town Trust and local press and media

The Club and guests then moved from the water’s edge around to the entrance to the Club where a new AED/defibrillator has been installed for public use. Paul Stanton took this opportunity to thank Club coach, Trevor Tiller, for his hard work in crowd funding the appeal for purchasing the equipment and to Tom Doherty, Land & Buildings Committee Member for wiring up the device and Jim Blatcher for giving training on the defibrillator. ‘Opening’ the AED/defibrillator was Tara Doncses, Director of Holloway Property Development Ltd who had contributed to the funding appeal

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page seventy six