A Busy Week for Stratford Boat Club!

It’s been a busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club! On Thursday, the adaptive section had a visit from Cllr Tony Jackson, former Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, to see what his donation from The Mayor’s Fund had gone towards

Cllr Jackson during his term in office had three chosen causes which were Volunteers, People with Disabilities and Health and Well Being. Commenting Paul Stanton, President of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club said, “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 and other athletes”

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach, “Tony was most interested to learn of the extra and special equipment needed to get adaptive athletes onto the water such as a Madeleine chair for lifting athletes from their wheelchair to their boat; specially adapted seats enabling disabled athletes to row and use an ergo; a ramp for wheelchairs to access the pontoon for boating; floats for adaptive boats as well as the emergency rescue launch with all its specialised equipment, purchase and running costs. Tony was pleased to learn that his contribution from The Mayor’s Fund has gone towards some of these essential items as well as towards a new adaptive boat soon to arrive”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page ten

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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