British Rowing Awards: Club of the Year winner

Congratulations to Fulham Reach Boat Club – winner of the Club of the Year!

The Club of the Year award spotlights clubs that are forward-thinking and well-run, with a thriving membership base of any size. While all five nominees for Club of the Year reflect the British Rowing value of being ‘Open to all’, demonstrating this through their club activities or through links to their local community, the winner welcomes inclusivity and diversity like no other.

Located next to Hammersmith Bridge, Fulham Reach Boat Club (FRBC) exists to improve lives through rowing. The club works with four groups within the local community to give them access to the river and teach them life lessons from being in the boat.

Their citation outlines how the club provides river sessions for 1,300 pupils from 14 local state schools. The club teaches them how to improve their confidence, focus, ambition and team-working skills with more than 80% of participants saying we have had a positive effect in these areas.

The club provides:

  • River sessions for 1,300 pupils from 14 local state schools
  • Helps half of the schools compete as British Rowing affiliated clubs across the UK
  • Offers indoor rowing clubs to five prisons across the South East of England
  • Over the summer holidays the club offers free-to-attend courses for those students receiving the Pupil Premium to tackle the problem of holiday hunger

The four other outstanding nominees are listed below, together with highlights from their citations.

1. London Otters RC (Thames Region)

London Otters Rowing Club (LORC) was established in 2014 when our founders struggled to find a club where they could develop their skills, whilst being openly gay.

LORC now has over 150 members, the majority of whom identify as LGBT+. Our learn to row courses are the only UK courses actively open to trans and non-binary people.

In 2018 we represented our sport at the Gay Games in Paris, winning several medals.

We see our club as key to providing a much-needed contribution to the LGBT+ community in London, but also to championing LGBT inclusivity in all British Rowing clubs.

2. Milton Keynes RC (Eastern Region)

Milton Keynes Rowing Club celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020, the year when Milton Keynes is the European City of Sport. For 24 of those years, the club’s boats were stored outside. But in 2013 a project was launched to raise £90,000 for an ambitious build. In August 2019 members, family and friends celebrated the opening of a new boathouse and training area.

We are very grateful for support from Sport England, MK Council, MK Community Foundation and several local businesses – as well as to club members who organised many fundraising events.

Lou Rivett (project lead and former Chair) said: “Having the boathouse… will allow us to expand and offer more people in MK the opportunity to take part in the amazing sport of rowing.”

3. Tynemouth RC (Northern Region)

Tynemouth is a small, relaxed and friendly club, established 153 years ago in North Shields. Located in the mouth of the Tyne, we can go for weeks without being able to practise on the water, due to the conditions.

We mainly use a couple of stable coxed quads and singles. Two crews were runners-up in the 2019 Sunday League competition. We are also entering some head races for the first time in years, as composite crews with Tyne ARC.

Our growing membership of keen rowers, backed up by the support of senior members who are true stalwarts, gives us a positive outlook for the future.

4. University of Leeds BC (Yorkshire Region)

Our aim at University of Leeds BC is to be the best university boat club at delivering both grassroots participation and high-performance programmes. We believe this is a mission that makes our club unique among university clubs.

Our participation programme allows our members to enjoy the sport while prioritising studying, or other interests. The highlight of the season for our social rowers is the Yorkshire Social Rowing League, established successfully last year.

As well as this, our performance results are improving every year, with club records set at the Head of the River, BUCS Regatta, Henley Women’s Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta in 2019.

We are also strong believers in the power of sport to do two crucial things: empower young leaders and improve social mobility. As the largest mixed-gender sports society on campus, we promote equal opportunities to both male and female athletes.

Thanks to the British Rowing Awards Panel for their time selecting our Club of the Year winner. On the panel were Laura Lion (British Rowing Board), Jo Virr (Captain, Castle Dore RC), Ian Dryden (Chief Coach, Canford School) and Will McGrath (Chairman, Shoreham RC).

We are celebrating the winners of the British Rowing Awards 2020 all the way up until 31 December so please keep and eye out for other winners #BRAwards2020

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