Stratford Boat Club takes steps to becoming a more sustainable club, fit for the future

On Thursday 4 April, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club held a sustainability workshop for its junior members. Fifteen athletes from the under 13 to under 17 squads volunteered to take part in an interactive workshop led by coach and Masters rower Eric Appleton.

The workshop was organized and supported by a new Club sustainability working group, which includes Vice Chair Gina Fusco, Safeguarding Officer Lizzie Sartain, Co-Treasurer Jake Blatcher and Chris Belcher, Fun Regatta organiser of recent years.  Claudine Pearson, ordinary member and Rubbish Friend assisted with resources.

Over the course of the afternoon, the athletes worked in groups to answer a series of questions on sustainability, including “What does sustainability mean to you?” and “What are the consequences if we don’t act sustainably?”

Two short films were shown from the international and national rowing bodies.

World Rowing: World Rowing and WWF to partner until 2024 to improve global water quality

British Rowing: British Rowing launches Environmental Sustainability Strategy

The workshop took a brief outdoor break by the pontoon, where Severn Trent River Rangers demonstrated water testing for ammonia.  Too much ammonia can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life.  Sewage effluent from treatment works is a major source of ammonia in rivers, along with diffuse run-off from agriculture. (Source: WCS Group). Testing on the day was found to be extremely low.

Olivia Boertje, River Protection Lead, Severn Trent, said: “River Health is important, and we all have a responsibility to drive positive change to ensure the wellbeing of our present and future environment. As the effects of climate change intensify, we witness a surge in extreme weather events—a phenomenon that reverberates not only through our lives but also across our waterways. It was great to engage with passionate individuals actively participating in discussions around Sustainability and River Health. I look forward to seeing their passion drive forward improvements to help protect our rivers and encourage others to do the same.”

Luke McCusker, Senior River Ranger, Severn Trent, said, “Our teams are committed to improving the health and biodiversity of the region’s rivers and watercourses. We are out on the riverbank’s day in, day out, resolving problems, and working closely with the hundreds of amazing customers, groups, clubs and associations linked with them – such as Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. There are challenges across all sectors, river health is a complex mixture of lots of things, and sustainability is huge key part to help improving them, so we are really pleased to see all the positivity, engagement, and interactions from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s new youth Sustainability group, looking forward to working together in the future, great work all round!”

In the final section, the athletes discussed how their club could be more sustainable and suggested ideas for a more sustainable regatta. Suggestions to reduce the event’s carbon footprint included: encouraging lift shares, not purchasing single use plastic, sourcing local and homemade food, choosing to support local businesses, separating food waste collection, improving signage around waste and recycling, choosing recycled glass for prizes and selling reusable cups.

Concerns on waste and recycling were addressed. Local waste management company, Fortress, take mixed rubbish and sort on site. A visit to the materials recycling plant was proposed to the junior squad members by Dawson Curnock, Chairman who was also present for the day.

Dawson Curnock said: “Like everyone in the current climate, our Club is keen to ensure that its members and athletes have a clean and safe environment to perform the sport that they love so much on.

“We are all aware that there are external challenges that we cannot control as individuals or clubs. However, as custodians of our stretch of the River Avon, we can try to limit the impact that we have on it and its surroundings.

“Clearly, we, the current custodians, cannot control the ageing process.  It is therefore imperative we allow future custodians to lead the awareness, generate the initiatives and drive the process to cleaner rivers.

“Enthusiastic is an underestimation of the atmosphere generated by the workshop. Several of the initiatives can be implemented into our Junior Sprint Regatta on 15 June, which was agreed should be a starting point to showcase the great ideas from our younger members.”

To wrap up the session, a representative from British Rowing, Lily Fraser talked with the juniors about the importance of using communications to create dialogue with members and the wider community on the environment and to build momentum for change.

Lily Fraser, Head of Digital and Marketing , British Rowing, said, “With 90% of British Rowing members considering sustainability to be important, British Rowing is looking forward to working with grassroots clubs such as Stratford Boat Club, the rowing community and the nation as a whole to champion a cleaner, bluer future.”

The workshop concluded with networking over homemade cakes as junior squad members created a new Instagram account and reel to mark the day. Internships and work experience are sought after and students took the opportunity to make contacts.

Harriet Froom, J17 athlete said, “The workshop helped to explain how things can’t just happen straight away. Even though we may be a small Club, just doing our bit for the river or local environment, even though it may seem as if it has little impact, it does add up to something bigger when a lot of places do similar things.”

Stratford’s Masters and Junior Squads Thrive in Sunny Bedford!

Having had their wings clipped by so many weeks of bad weather, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior and masters’ squads travelled to Bedford Spring Head where the J13 squad were itching to take make their competitive debut in Club colours. The weather and setting combined to deliver a great introduction to racing, and some really confident sculling was on display from the youngest athletes on a complicated course surrounded by quality crews of all ages. The first quad of Connor Birrell, Charlotte Mansfield, Herbie Shickle and Raya Hothi, calmly piloted by Martina Bruce-Bonilla, made effortless progress down the course and recorded a commendable time despite an issue in the closing stages that would have ruffled far more experienced crews. They were followed by a double scull containing Reuben Stanford and Nathan Lebordais who combined power with enthusiasm to deliver a highly creditable result.

The afternoon’s racing saw a second quad of Meredith Paul, Bethany Hammond, Tristan Hammick and Scarlet Wheeler propelled down the course under the guidance of Abi Dunn as coxswain. A tight racing line around the final bend scattered the swans and helped them record a respectable time achieved with minimal fuss. A final double scull of Dunn and Bruce-Bonilla then returned upriver to deliver a composed and well-measured race that saw them steadily close on the boat ahead of them. Commenting Jon Francis, J13 Coach, “All in all, an excellent day of racing for the whole J13 squad at their first event.”

Rowing their last head race this season, Stratford’s J14s started the Bedford Spring Head with the OJ14x+ of Rory Rowan, Euan Richter, Will Shaw, Rory Jones and Ed Appleton (c), rowing well and finishing fouth. The Women’s J14 coxed quad of Orla Linforth, Erin Appleton, Maria Ntoukaki, Naomi Sime and Rory Jones (c) did very well and came second, beating crews from Wallingford and Falcon Rowing Clubs. Finally, the Open J14 double sculls of Seb Happel and Euan Richter and James Greenwood and Ed Appleton came third and fourth respectively. Commenting, Hugo Happel, Stratford’s J14 Coach said, “The athletes gained valuable experience here, which they will take into their next events.”

A glorious spring day saw a total of twenty five crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club on their trip to Bedford for the Spring Head. Held over 2000m on the Great Ouse the course runs through the town centre making a theatre of rowing for the day.  Stratford’s J15 squad competed in both coxed quadruple sculls and double sculls. In the quadruple sculls, it was a Wallingford sandwich with the crew of Bryony Francis, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith and Isla Dunn (coxswain) taking the win ahead of Sophie Franklin, Millie Smith, Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) in third and Wallingford Rowing Club in between. When it came to the J15 double sculls event, the Stratford girls made their presence felt again in dominant style with the athletes taking first (Bryony Francis/Maeve Dunn), second (Martha Baines/Becca Smith), third (Millie Smith/Sophie Franklin), fourth (Isla Dunn/Martha Cooke) and ninth (Josephine Cooper/Tessa Parkin) places.

The Junior 17/18 squad raced the 2k course twice. Jamie Wilcock put in a very consistent performance in his single scull recording exactly the same time in both runs placing him seventh out of fourteen in the J17 event. Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton lead their event after the first division in their double scull only to be beaten narrowly by three crews from Wallingford racing at the end of the day. Nancy Davies and Ez Elfwood sculled well to finished eighth in the same event.

Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain entered the Junior 17 single sculls event finishing a very close race in seventh, ninth and tenth respectively covered by just thirteen seconds.

The WJ18 coxed four of Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain won the Women’s event by twelve seconds in the morning, then went two seconds quicker in their second run in the afternoon. Commenting, J17/18 Coach Sam Hill said, “Bedford has been a successful event for the J17/18 squad who have shown they all have potential to perform well in the regattas to come this summer.”

For Stratford’s masters men racing in Division 5, where a noticeable tailwind had picked up compared to the morning racing, the quadruple scull of Ed Lewry, Eric Appleton, Tom Doherty and Nick Sartain attacked the course from the gun to make the best of the favourable conditions. Initially striking thirty six strokes per minute, the pace was frantic until they settled into a steadier race-pace after a minute. The crew held a solid rhythm as they ticked off the many bridges which cross the course as it curved through the town. As the finish approached, they found a final sprint for the line to complete the race in 6 minutes 36 seconds and a commendable third out of the sixteen men’s quads present.

The ladies’ masters WMD4x quad of Ellie Davis at stroke, Gina Fusco at three, Christine Goodwin at two, and Emily Sayers in bow, had a strong row, finishing second place on raw time, in 8.09mins. Following handicapping time adjustments, the crew were placed sixth. This crew is one to watch, having made significant progress in training.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/rowing-stratfords…  and Stratford Herald page forty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/enjoyable-debut-for-club-s-juniors-9362077

The Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race 2024 – “Taming of the Tideway”

Congratulations to Suzie Radley who won the Masters D VIII division in a time of 19:59mins. This time was faster than the winning Masters C VIII, a huge achievement having raced the course twice in as many weeks.

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s novice masters women’s crew took on the challenge of rowing 6.7km along the championship course in London. Coxed expertly by Jen Carey, the crew – Jane Cryer (s), Lin Hansen, Katie Burman, Ruth Poulten, Caroline Collins, Vicki Noyes, Clare Booth and Rona Fitzpatrick – raced in a field of two hundred and sixty masters’ boats from Chiswick through to Putney. After several weeks of tough river conditions, the sun shone and the wind died down to allow the ladies crew a good race with a solid rhythm and a strong finish.

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Masters’ Vice Captain said, “Particular thanks to the fabulous support crew – Esme and Alfie Booth and Paul Fitzpatrick. Also a special mention to our wider group of masters’ ladies for their significant support over the last ten weeks through training, coxing and coaching. A great first race experience and plenty to build on!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page thirty seven and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-radley-tops-division-in-vesta-international-masters-head-of-the-river-race and also on back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/04/05&pages=24

Stratford and K.E.S. Have A Busy Week!

An early start at Dorney Rowing Lake for the 2024 Oarsport Junior Sculling head was a picture of determination as Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s WJ16 quad category competitors including the crew of Lily Warren, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, and Alice Jones took to the water, The event, a testament to individual skill in the art of sculling, was a grueling test of endurance and strategy over the twin 1800-metre courses. The young athletes, juggling the demands of sport and academia, faced a field of fifty four crews in their division in a race that was as much about mental fortitude as it was about physical prowess. Despite their valiant effort and a commendable comeback in the latter half, the girls’ early pace wasn’t enough to secure a top finish. Commenting Colin Bell, J16 Coach, “However, the lessons learned are invaluable, and with a training day scheduled in two weeks at Dorney, they have the opportunity to refine their technique and strategy, turning the tide of their performance in preparation for the challenges ahead.”

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 boys’ quad of were racing at the Olympic standard venue for the very first time. They sculled with fine technique in blustery but dry conditions and showed great consistency throughout, finishing twentieth out of forty crews in their division. A very proud J14 Coach Hugo Happel said, “I’m so incredibly proud of the boys: not only did they show great skill and energy management on the water, the way they prepared before boating was exemplary.”

Stratford’s J15 squad were represented by Maeve Dunn, Millie Smith, Tessa Parkin, Becca Smith and Poppy Warren (coxswain) in the coxed quadruple sculls event. After a strong first leg putting them in thirteenth position, the crew steeled themselves for the return 1800m. A ding dong battle over the final 500m with Wallingford Rowing Club saw the crew return a result of twenty first overall from the fifty seven crews racing in their division.”

Earlier in the week, Stratford’s sister club King Edward V1 School Boat Club, having had a very wet season and having all the events they have entered so far cancelled, headed down to London on Wednesday for the Schools’ Head of the River Race. Once again they had entered the School Mixed Eights’ category with a crew of A.Appleton, J. Long, D. Shilvock, J.Warner, A. Mathers, M. Hall, W. Dalrymple-Baker, K. Richardson and I. Hill. Only two of the crew and cox remained the same as last year’s crew and with little to no racing so far, they had no idea how well it would go. With the whole event potentially in jeopardy due to high flow rates, it was a great feeling once the crew were on the water and heading to their marshaling point. Going off at place 282, the crew had quite a wait on the water until it was go time. Leading off their category down the championship course cox Hill steered an excellent course and while doing so also kept the crew on top of their rowing.

Commenting, Hannah Crone, Head of Rowing at K.E.S. said, “Finishing fourth in a very respectable time and not far off the top crews and despite their initial disappointment with the result, the crew were happy with their row and their time: they should all be proud of themselves for the effort and performance they put in on the back of little race experience.”

On Wednesday Stratford’s junior 17/18 women’s quad also headed to London for the first national race of the season on the Tideway. After fears of cancellation, perfect conditions made for an exciting and fast race. A strong pace was set by V Vondrak in the stroke seat with Uch Nwachukwu and Scarlett Richardson providing the power in the middle of the boat. The crew came under pressure from some extremely strong crews however Lucy Sartain in the bow seat was unfazed and steered a strong line down the course whilst going blade to blade with the top boats in the country. The crew finished the 6.8km course strongly in a very respectable time of 20:17.1 to put them 21st out of 30 top level boats.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty four and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-young-rowers-impress-at-oarsport-junior-sculling-head

For pictures of Scullery, see Stuart Baines’ great selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j-UffQM-vzC8bM9Wjg

Stratford Excel at Gloucester!

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club masters’ men’s squad were out in force on Sunday at Gloucester Rowing Club Spring Head. The morning division may have been overcast but the rowing was a shining example of Stratford Boat Club at its best!

It was excellent to see  Stratford’s E 4- of Gary Clay, Richard Shepherd, Rich Owen and Dan Simpkins take to the water. This was the first time racing in this combination and the first time Rich Owen has raced since 2012 when he and Dan won Masters C at the same race!  A steady row, as planned, rating twenty six strokes per minute down the course and, whilst outshone by an impressive Minerva/Bidford combination, an enjoyable start to the season.

The H 2x of Mike Adkins and Paul Collins also rowed the Long Course. The double became cold waiting for the start, a draw back to head racing. Cold can pose one of the hardest challenges of head racing which is getting going again once the race is finally underway! With the terrific tail wind, they covered the course at a consistent rate of twenty six strokes per minute and were delighted with a no crab verdict!

The lunch break was enjoyable as the three squads – masters, senior women and adaptives – met together. Some were also fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time for some of the delicious lemon drizzle cake baked by Rich Shepard!

In the afternoon division, the sun came out welcoming the men’s C 4x for their first race of the head season. With Nick Sartain setting the pace from the stroke seat, the quad got off to a quick start before settling into a race rate of thirty one strokes per minute. Ed Lewry in the bow seat steered perfect lines down the course. The crew had the Stratford/Evesham composite VIII in their sights and soon reeled them in, followed by another overtake as they went past Avon County VIII. Eric Appleton and Tom Doherty, in the middle of the quad, kept the intensity up all the way to the finish. The crew recorded a time of nineteen minutes dead, easily winning their division, placing them fifth fastest of the afternoon and seventh for the day. Congratulations on their win!

Phil Marshal, Dave Edwards, Simon Skilling and Ian Sayers made up half of the Stratford/Evesham E/F composite VIII. They also found the cold wait a challenge but once the race started that was soon forgotten. They set about finding their rhythm and settled into a comfortable pace, having adjusted to the river conditions. From here, the cox Elisabeth Edwards, was in a good position to ask them to build as they moved on the crews ahead. They confidently rowed past an Avon VIII and held their own against a quad that pushed them from behind for the entire second half of the race. The VIII were determined to get the best time possible and gave everything they had through to the finish line. A gutsy row from this newly formed VIII.

Amanda Bowden, Masters’ Vice Captain commented that she was very impressed with the rowing and Club commitment, adding, “Well done to everybody who raced. Given the short time that the crews had been together and with very little time on the water this season due to the floods, the crews should be pleased with their results. These crews are all packed with potential and looking to make further improvements! We would all like to thank Dave Edwards for towing the boats. There may be one more head race for some crews but after that – bring on the summer regattas!”

In the morning division, Stratford’s women’s double of Imogen North and Beth Edwards took to the water for their first race together. Amongst a strong field of seven crews, they maintained a strong steady pace down the course to finish second.

Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive section sent five crews to Gloucester’s Head race. Unfortunately, there was no effective competition for them. Each athlete performed well. The stand-out performance was from 14 year old Isaac Clarkson who finished the course in 9 minutes 51 seconds, only a minute slower than his two adult club colleagues – Curtis Dickens and Andy Morris. The two doubles of Ian/Paola Ward and Gillian Middleton/Jake Blatcher were in a close, all Stratford contest. All the adaptive event medals for the day came back around the necks of the Stratford rowers.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty two and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-mens-masters-squad-out-in-force-at-gloucesters-spring-head and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/03/22&pages=32

Stratford Conquer The Tideway!

Congratulations to Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Masters Women, Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden who raced at the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (WEHORR) and won the Masters Pennant!

WEHORR is rowed over 6.8km on the Tideway in London from Chiswick Bridge to Putney on the ebb tide, the same course that the University Boat Race will row over at the end of March but in the other direction.

The Stratford’s Masters women were invited to row in a composite crew with other clubs and it was a great privilege to be able to race in the boat that was used by the US Women’s winning eight in the 2016 Olympics.

The masters crew set up with a strong rhythm and maintained that for the duration of the course at 31 strokes per minute, overtaking two crews and gaining on a third. It was a solid row in tough conditions as the head wind pushed against the tide producing very choppy water. The adjusted time for masters was 20:06 minutes which would place the crew 26 out of 158, up amongst some of the university A times.

The crew enjoyed the Victory Celebration presentation in the evening, with the medals being presented by Annamarie Phelps CBE, Olympic Rower and previous Vice Chair of the Olympic Association, and hosted by Stratford’s Honorary Life Member Camilla Hadland-Horrocks, rowing commentator for Olympic and Paralympic Games. Another successful Stratford rower, Katie Wellstead was also spotted at the event, rowing for OUBC.

This year the event had been expecting to host many more crews, but sadly due to the high water levels and in the interest of safety, about 50% of the less experienced crews were withdrawn, including Stratford’s own junior 18 girls boat. We hope that the Stratford J18 crew will get to enjoy the long Tideway Course next year or with future university crews. For now, they should take some comfort, the conditions were horrible!

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Stratford’s Women Masters Vice Captain said, “We would like to thank the masters women for all their encouragement and support. Messages before, during and after the event have ensured that the masters women are well supported.

There is more masters women Tideway action to come as the Masters E Crew of Jane Cryer, Ruth Poulton, Katie Burman, Lin Hansen, Caroline Collins, Victoria Noyes, Clare Booth and Rona Fitzpatrick and cox Jen Carey will be racing at Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race on Sunday 24th March. They have been training hard and we all wish them good luck!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty six and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/stratford-rowers-compete-in-usa-olympics-boat-9357098 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-womens-masters-pair-triumph-on-the-tideway and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/03/15&pages=24

Stratford Excel in London and Hereford!

The weekend started well for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club with India Hamilton from Stratford Boat Club’s Participation squad making the trip to London to compete in the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships.  Held in the Copper Box Arena in the Olympic Park, the venue matched the performance level of the junior athletes competing. India, who is a pupil at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School, competed in the WJ14 Four Minute event in a field of 258 other competitors. With a solid start, India lay in twenty first place after the first minute but with each subsequent minute, her competitors dropped away and a stellar final sprint saw India secure the Silver Medal. India’s Participation Squad Coach, Ralph Johnson summed up well, “What a performance!”

On Sunday, the all too familiar pattern of bad weather continued and the West Midlands Junior Rowing Championships 2024 had to relocate to Hereford as the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta trials only. In Division One, the Stratford women’s J14 coxed quad was narrowly beaten by the Hereford crew. In Division Two, Stratford boys’ 4x+ and 2x both beat their opposition from Hereford Cathedral and Hereford Rowing Club respectively and qualified for the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta. J14 Coach Hugo Happel said, “Well done to all athletes for leaving it all on the water. Despite the lack of water time due to floods at Stratford over the last couple of months, they all sculled with good technique and power with some excellent energy management. They can all be very proud!”

In the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta trial format, Stratford’s J15 squad took to the water in crew boats. The coxed quadruple scull of Maeve Dunn, Martha Baines, Tessa Parkin, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke (coxswain) powered down the course to take the win from Hereford on their home water. Not to be outdone, the coxed four of Bryony Francis, Millie Smith, Becca Smith, Isla Dunn and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) also won their event in style ahead of a quality Royal Shrewsbury School outfit.

First down the course at the West Midlands Junior Inter Regional trials for Stratford’s J16 squad was the women’s junior 16 coxless quad of Lily Warren, Alice Jones, Sophie Evans and Poppy Baines. A strong last sprint to the line rewarded them with a competitive third position.

Following them was the strong showing in the Junior 16 coxed fours by Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, James Albrighton and Cox Meg Nuttal3 who stormed to the line taking a second place finish narrowly missing out on qualification.

Starting division three was Xavier Sissins-Roffey in the Junior 16 singles who pushed pass the worsening conditions to claim one of the two qualifying spots for this event. Joining him was Alexandra Francis and Poppy Baines who chased each other down the course to claim both the qualifying positions in a fantastic 1-2 finish.

Sadly because of the change of venue and potential inclement weather, the participation in the event by Stratford’s J13 and J17 squads was scrapped to make the organisation of the event more manageable.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty six and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-participation-squad-athlete-wins-silver-at-national-indoor-championships and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/03/08&pages=24

For great pictures of the West Midlands Junior Rowing Championships 2024/Junior Inter-Regional Regatta trials, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOhrR9CAeSfUPS_M07Qw

Safety First: No Compromise!

After many months of delay due to inclement weather conditions, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club has finally commissioned a cohort of five ‘new’ launch drivers to their safety rota

All launch drivers at Stratford Boat Club are RYA qualified and as well as having extensive familiarisation on the Boat Club’s three safety launches, all new drivers have been on and passed the Royal Yachting Association’s Inland Waterways Helmsman course at Bisham Abbey which includes safety, helmsmanship, collision avoidance, engine checks, mooring, man overboard, rescue and enables them river to helm a vessel safely

Said Ian Wilcock, Stratford Boat Club’s Water Safety Advisor, “Stratford Boat Club takes water safety and the safety of its members and all river users very seriously. The Club’s launches are used daily for assisting with training upstream and safety on the Avon and having a pool of trained and qualified drivers is essential to maintain these rigorous standards. As well as weekend safety cover, the launches are out during the week with school outreach and essential cover for the Club’s ever expanding adaptive and weekday rowers’ squads as well as the Club’s two regattas and other events on the Avon”

Commenting further, Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President, said, “Putting our launch drivers through the RYA’s Inland Waterways Helmsman course is a considerable undertaking not only for the Club but also for the volunteers who give freely of their time gaining experience, going on the course and covering the launch safety rota slots. As the winter weather hopefully begins to ease, their input is especially needed and essential as summer rowing activity increases: we cannot thank them enough for their volunteering and time given!”

(Chris Dunn also passed but no shown in picture)

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page thirty nine and Stratford Observer online  https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-commission-five-new-launch-drivers-to-safety-rota

Stratford’s Dewdney Awarded British Rowing’s Medal of Merit!

In his award citation, Alastair Marks, Chief Executive of British Rowing stated, “Mark also received multiple nominations from across his region for the work that he has done to raise the profile of adaptive rowing.

He coaches a substantial number of adaptive rowers at his own club at Stratford upon Avon and oversees a large group of volunteers, but his contribution to adaptive rowing has been much wider than that, with a major impact on a national level.

Mark has helped to develop the recent national strategy for adaptive rowing and has enabled coaches of adaptive rowers across the country to share ideas and good practice on adaptive rowing.

As Chair of the British Rowing Club Adaptive Group, which Mark helped to establish, he is in constant conversation with rowing and disability focussed organisations and gives up significant amounts of his time to assist other rowing clubs and competitions across the country in planning adaptive categories, providing guidance to safety considerations and logistical planning.

At international level, Mark has organised for Clubs in the UK to attend Para competitions in Italy and has met with international Para coaches to share ideas.”

Commenting further, Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President said, “The whole Club is very proud of Mark and his achievements and especially the recognition from British Rowing, the sport’s governing body: Mark’s dedication to the sport and the hours of dedication mirror the efforts of all Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s coaches, launch drivers, committee members, supporters and volunteers. We are so grateful to all of them!”

For media coverage, see British Rowing news https://www.britishrowing.org/2024/01/2023-british-rowing-awards-winners-announced; Stratford Herald page forty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/rowing-coach-presented-with-top-award-9351047 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-dewdney-awarded-british-rowings-medal-of-merit and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/02/02&pages=24

Attending a special awards presentation in London was Mark Dewdney, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach. Earlier in the month, Mark was awarded British Rowing’s Medal of Merit for his services to rowing

At the ceremony hosted by Fortnum & Mason, Love Rowing and British Rowing, Mark was presented with his award by Moe Sbihi MBE and with some of rowing’s ‘royalty’ of Dr Cath Bishop, Ellen Buttrick, Alastair Marks, Richard Phelps, Tanni Gray-Thompson and Ben Pritchard applauding at the award ceremony!

Stratford’s Participation Squad Triumph Indoors!

Despite being decimated by injuries and last-minute withdrawals, a small group of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes from the Participation Squad put in some amazing performances to come away from the annual King’s School Worcester Indoor Rowing Competition with medals.

Having only commenced indoor rowing in October and only training once a week, a number of personal best times were recorded with Shane McMahon coming off his sick bed to compete in three races!

Ellis Bishop secured a bronze in the year 11 boys’ race, rowing well above his normal rate and again demonstrating his ability to follow a race plan.

The last race of the day Ellis Bishop, Amelia Welton, Hannah Shivlock and Shane McMahon competed in the year 11 mixed relay where despite three of them only being in year 10, they secured a bronze medal.

Said Ralph Johnson, Stratford’s Participation Squad Coach, “The team were understandably very pleased with their day’s work and look forward to more events!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty seven and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-clubs-participation-squad-triumph-indoors