IT’S OFFICIAL – STRATFORD IS PARASPORT CLUB OF 2020!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad has been crowned as GB Paralympic Association’s ‘Parasport Club of the Year!

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach at Stratford Boat Club said,

“Well, well, well: who would have thought it! It is a humbling accolade given the fantastic work being done by the other nominees for the award as well. This is recognition for a great team effort over several years”

“‘The Club of the Year’ title should help us progress some of the plans we have set out for the months and years ahead. We hope it will make easier to get sponsorship and funding during 2021”

“We will not be resting on our laurels! There are many more tangible targets we have yet to achieve. We still have a long way to go improve provision and facilities for the disabled community. This is true of most, if not all, sports”

The ‘Parasport Club of the Year’ financial award is worth in the region of £1000. This can be used towards new adaptive rowing kit, access facilities or anything to benefit provision for the disabled

As part of the award, a top Paralympics GB athlete will spend a day at the club in 2021. “This should be an inspiration to the whole Club membership not just our section” says Mark

Mark also commented, “Parasport congratulated Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad on their great and often humorous ‘Club of the Year’ campaign and specifically the important message it contained on inclusivity within community sports”

“Stratford Boat Club would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Stratford Boat Club members and their families for their magnificent support by voting for us”

The adaptive squad’s win in October with ‘Parasport Club of the Month’ now seems a long time ago but Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s message remains as before: ‘if there’s a will, there’s usually a way to get people rowing no matter their circumstances’

The Club launched their adaptive section in 2015 with two rowers and now have six or seven different boats serving a squad of more than ten. The squad’s secret to their success is simple – a ‘listen first’ mentality – embracing a people-centred approach to physical and coaching challenges

“What makes the adaptive squad work is that we’re always learning from our athletes – we listen!” said Mark. “Necessity means the rowers have often come up with clever ways of overcoming their particular challenges. We take something from every person who comes to us – something that we have not thought of that help us to improve what we do with others. We are at our best when it comes to finding novel ways to teach people how to move a boat. It is different for every single person we get, whatever their ability. That is what makes it so interesting to be an adaptive coach”

One of the two rowers who joined the club in 2015, Kingsley Ijomah, is African champion and will represent his native Nigeria at the 2021 Paralympics. Stratford has been coaching another athlete on the GB Paralympic Development Pathway during 2020. However, Mark’s coaching philosophy is rooted in inclusivity rather than high performance.

“If we can do it and if it’s safe, we will have a go” Mark said. “We don’t select on how good someone’s going to be, we just look at how we can make it work for that particular individual. We can help those who just want a paddle, enjoy the social side and be independent or those who want to go all the way up to the top of the sport”

Stratford’s adaptive rowers have wide-ranging needs, including participants with spinal cord injuries, hemiplegia, visual impairment and autism. They are support by five qualified coaches plus a large number of volunteers who provide safety, launch driving and much else besides. Mark said, “This level of support is, ultimately, why it works”

Parasport is developed by ParalympicsGB in partnership with Toyota as part of their commitment to making movement better for everyone. To discover inclusive local opportunities to become more active, visit parasport.org.uk

So, if you are interested in trying something new, getting outdoors on the water, seeing what’s possible, or just assisting with Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad, please get in touch using the contact section of Boat Club’s website (http://www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact), marking the subject box ‘Adaptive’

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Stratford’s Adaptive Squad Makes Racing Debut!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad went to its first event of the season last Sunday.

Stratford is one of the “Big 5” adaptive clubs that dominate the scene in the South of England. All but one of these clubs attended the Time Trial that was rowed over part of the Henley Royal Regatta course. The five squad rowers from Stratford were Jake Blatcher, Dan Godefroy, Hattie Throssell, Ian Ward and Mark Sanders. A couple of athletes, due to their disability, require experienced club volunteers to row with them. For Dan and Jake it was their first competitive event.

Jake won the prize for best junior men’s performance of the day. Mark missed out on the men’s adult prize by 0.1 of a second to a Marlow sculler. The other athletes all produced times that bode well for this summer’s regatta season.

The adaptive squad was revived at the Stratford Boat Club in 2015: since that date, the squad has grown steadily. “We have athletes with a variety of disabilities: some just require a little extra support. Safety is always paramount: we can deal with most issues but not all. The emphasis is on participation and enjoyment but it always great to get a win at these events” says Mark Dewdney, the Club’s Adaptive Coach.

The squad’s next competition will be at Marlow on the May Bank Holiday Monday.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/adaptive-rowers-impress-at-henley and Stratford Herald page 16 and http://www.stratford-herald.com/97512-stratford-boat-clubs-adaptive-squad-makes-racing-debut.html

For those interested in learning more about adaptive rowing at Stratford Boat Club, please contact the Club via the Club’s website http://www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact