Stratford’s Dewdney Summoned By High Sheriff!

Thursday evening saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney at Warwick School for a surprise reception and presentation by the outgoing High Sheriff of Warwickshire, The Lady Willoughby de Broke with a certificate “… in recognition of great and valuable services to the community”.

The award was nominated by Cllr Kevin Taylor, Mayor of Stratford upon Avon who said, “Great night on Thursday evening attending The High Sheriff of Warwickshire’s Evening reception where she presented awards to various charities from around Warwickshire. Stratford upon Avon charities Lifespace, Safeline and the Street Pastors were all given awards.

All of the Warwickshire Mayors were requested to nominate a volunteer of the year award and it was a great honour to nominate Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach and main instigator of the adaptive rowing squad at Stratford upon Avon Boat Club.

Mark is a truly inspirational character with a vision of creating an incredibly inclusive and important section of a great sporting club. He works tirelessly to deliver and although now supported by a very willing number of dedicated volunteers, without his vision drive and enthusiasm this would have never happened.”

Kevin continued, “Volunteers such as Mark are critical in the delivery of projects in the area: they are the catalysts in delivering programmes such as this and I know I will be seeking Mark’s advice in how to deliver an adaptive group within Stratford upon Avon Table Tennis Club. Well done, Mark: this award is incredibly well deserved!”

Commenting further, Paul Stanton, President of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club said, “Mark had no idea that this award was coming and it was very special to have the evening and award presented by The High Sheriff Lady Willoughby de Broke. We are immensely proud of Mark and all that he has done for the Club and the local community: the adaptive section and the Club goes from strength to strength and is reliant and built on the volunteering ethic that Mark exemplifies!”

For media inclusion, see Stratford Herald page fifty nine and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/boat-club-coach-scoops-surprise-volunteer-of-the-year-award-9249269

Stratford’s Adaptives Out In Force at Henley on Thames Phyllis Court

Sunday saw a very large contingent of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive (disabled) section descend on Henley-on-Thames to take part in The Phyllis Court Time Trials. This event has become the major highlight of the adaptive calendar: times achieved are used as a major indicator of performance and determine the format of competition for the coming regatta season.

The Stratford Boat Club entered ten crews, more than a third of the total entry. This included Rob Pedley, Lee Cairns and Dan Browne competing in their first ever event. On the day there were thirteen adaptive rowers making their debut: this is a very good indicator for the growth of rowing for the disabled.

In perfect but cold conditions, the Stratford rowers again proved they are a force to be reckoned with. Performances, especially from the new members of the squad, made the Head Adaptive Coach extremely proud and happy, no bad thing for coach/ athlete relationships! Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach said, “The squad is now so large that we spend a lot of our time at regattas just making sure all the kit is available when it needs to be. This may be tiring and a major undertaking for all the coaches and helpers as well as the athletes but good results will always make the effort worthwhile! The section is heavily reliant on volunteers who give their time freely: this is why the team works so well!”

Given the nature of the event, the awards are only given out for special performances: this year these focussed on the new rowers, Stratford taking two of the six prizes. One prize went to Dan Browne and ‘buddy rower’ and Adaptive Coach Joe Moore as the fastest new double and Rob Pedley took the Coaches’ Award for the most impressive debut of the day.

Also at Phyllis Court to support Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad were Kevin Taylor, Mayor of Stratford upon Avon and Stratford Boat Club President, Paul Stanton. Commenting, Paul said, “We were honoured to have Kevin with us and his support for the adaptive squad on the day and during his tenure as Mayor of Stratford upon Avon means a lot to us and exemplifies Kevin’s commitment and dedication to sport, those who are less fortunate and the culture of volunteering: we have all learnt a lot from Kevin over this last year”

Commenting further, Paul said, “Our welcome and attentive company from Phyllis Court was outstanding to both me and the Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, a glorious morning spent in the company of kind and considerate people. We marvelled at their organisation, lots of marquees, genuine smiling faces and ever welcome to assist on any request. Speaking on behalf of the competitors from our adaptive squad, our thanks for their hospitality and assistance. Phyllis Court Rowing Club are a very friendly bunch of caring people!”

Kevin Taylor, Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, summed up the day by saying, “Thank you so much for a thoroughly enjoyable day: we are immensely proud of everyone assisting and participating within the group and we look forward to coming along again soon!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/adaptive-squad-makes-waves-at-time-trials-9248001 and page fifty one and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratfords-adaptives-out-in-force-at-henley-on-thames

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

Trophies Presented for 2020/2021 for President’s Sculls

The week ended for Stratford Boat Club with the presentation of trophies on Sunday for the winners of The President’s Sculls competition run over 2020 and 2021 due to the interruption by Covid. The winner of the Men’s Trophy was Tim Lunel and the Ladies’ Trophy was Heather Hayton, neither of whom could attend. However, Tim sent a note to Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, saying, “Having concentrated almost exclusively on sweep oar rowing in my university rowing days, it has been really enjoyable to have the chance to transfer those skills to sculling at Stratford. It has been great to hear hints and tips from lots of Stratford Boat Club members. The fact that I was able to win the President Sculls is however due almost exclusively to the patience and good humour of Chris Straw. It was sculling with Chris, learning from him and being coached by him that means that at least I know what I am trying to do in getting a single scull moving quickly through the water – if only achieving it on rare occasions! Thank you Chris, this President’s Sculls’ prize is more yours than it is mine! Thank you Paul for making this competition happen and getting as many people in the Club to appreciate the joys of sculling”

The winner of the junior trophy was Freya Watts who came through her fiercely fought heats to win against all including some juniors older than her. The Adaptive trophy, repurposed/ recycled from Head Adaptive Coach, Mark Dewdney’s own collection was won by Jake Blatcher for his dedication and input to the adaptive squad over the last two years and his marked improvement in his sculling and rowing

Commenting, Paul Stanton said, “We are indebted to the Rose family for the original trophies which have again been recycled/repurposed for today’s presentation. Albert George Gerald Rose was the original benefactor and everyone knew him as Sonny and was captain of the Club in the early 1930’s and rowed in many winning fours. Sonny owned and ran The Boat House [now Avon Boating] next door. Tim Lunel’s pot is dated 1929 which Sonny won at Nottingham and Heather Hayton’s pot dates from 1927 and was awarded as the President’s Sculls. Jake Blatcher’s second trophy dates back to 1928 and was when Sonny won the Maiden Fours at Stratford’s own regatta. Freya Watts’ trophy dates from 1929 and appropriately was won by Sonny in the Junior Fours race at Ross Regatta where Freya raced last week with some considerable success!”

Stratford Boat Club is looking forward to its own Covid secure regatta on Saturday 18 September: racing will be from 08.00hrs to mid/late afternoon and there will be a catering wagon and bar open to all. Excellent views of the racing can be seen from the Club, Bancroft Gardens, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Riverside Café and the Rec

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/prestigious-trophies-handed-out-to-top-performers-9215851

Adaptive Squad Back on the River!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad this weekend was able to get back on the water under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and British Rowing’s Covid exemption for disability sport

Welcoming the squad back onto the water was Stratford upon Avon’s Mayor, Councillor Tony Jackson with the Mayoress, Mandy Jackson together with Stratford Boat Club’s President, Paul Stanton

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach, said, “This weekend was very special for the adaptive squad as under the Covid exemption for disability sport, some of the adaptive athletes were able to get back to sport and recreation on the water. It took a lot of planning and risk assessments incorporating all the British Rowing Covid advice on sanitising and social distancing but it was certainly worth it. We’re hoping to get more adaptive athletes onto the water in the coming weeks and eventually the junior and adult members of the Club”

Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “Having the Mayor of Stratford upon Avon coming down to cheer the adaptive squad back onto the water was a great honour and boost for the squad’s morale. Councillor Jackson has three main chosen causes during his tenure as Mayor which are volunteers, people with disabilities and health and well being. Tony has been a great supporter of the Club and especially the adaptive squad and he understands the importance of sport and recreation for the welling and health of the adaptive athletes”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/adaptive-squad-back-on-the-water-9158578 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratfords-adaptive-squad-back-on-the-river-28246

For more great pictures, see Trevor Tiller’s selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ajo1zADNwhQAshunqy3A77kHhHxk

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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