Adaptive rowing in the West Midlands

Adaptive rowing is all about removing barriers for individuals with learning, physical and sensory impairments. There are three clubs in the West Midlands that specifically provide Adaptive Rowing – Stratford, Evesham and Worcester, all have been using the mainstream club boats, but with new equipment funded by Sport England Awards for All grants and the West Midlands Rowing Council, the disabled athletes will soon have their own boats.

Stratford have formed a dedicated adaptive squad consisting of scullers with varied disabilities including spinal bifida and acquired brain injuries who all have differing goals in rowing, with some hoping to follow in the footsteps of club member James Roe who has been included in the GB squad for the World Championships.

Evesham is in the early stages of building their section while Worcester have had a section for rowing with pupils from New College Worcester for the visually impaired operating successfully for the past ten years. Two members of their novices this season are rowing with the club’s main novice squad – both clubs are looking forward to expanding their adaptive teams with input and ideas from ARA Sport England Club and Coach funded coach Maddie Millichap.

At the end of June, Stratford Regatta hosted their first adaptive sculling race between one of its members, Liz Stone, and Caroline McDonald from Tees Rowing Club.  After great effort by both competitors Caroline was crowned the winner. We would like to thank the EFDS (English Federation of Disability Sport) and N Power active for their financial involvement.

Neil Smith who had demonstrated Adaptive Rowing at Stratford Regatta in 2008 unfortunately could not be there in 2009 as he had just completed an adaptive cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats to fund a row from Birmingham to Marseille which will take place in 2010. Unfortunately James Roe was also unable to attend the regatta as he was at the Rowing World Cup in Germany and won Gold in the LTA 4+ (legs, trunk and arms coxed four).

Maddie has been running taster sessions in boats funded by the West Midlands regional Rowing Council and Awards for All at Topbarn Farm, Holt Heath, Worcester during July and August, and whilst the numbers attended were small, it gave a chance to try out the boats and invent ways of getting those attending safely into them.

Should you wish to learn further about Adaptive Rowing in the West Midlands please contact Maddie on 07960 534704 or alternatively email her Madeleine.millichap@ara-rowing.org

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