Norfolk embraces community rowing

Community rowing is blossoming in East Anglia, thanks to the continuing success of the Whitlingham Boathouses Foundation.

The Foundation was established in 2009 to create and operate a rowing and canoeing facility for communities in Norfolk, and consists of Norwich Rowing Club, Norwich School Boat Club, Norwich High School Boat Club, the University of East Anglia Boat Club, and Norwich Canoe Club.

The first phase of building – including a fully-usable ground floor with storage for rowing boats and canoes – has already been completed, with British Rowing National Manager Rosemary Napp on hand to help launch the new facility at an opening ceremony in July.

‘It was really impressing to see how the boathouse has brought together the local community clubs and schools,’ said Napp. ‘Whitlingham Boathouse is already a vibrant and exciting base for rowing and canoeing enthusiasts, and the welcome extended to all who wish to join in, explore, and enjoy Norwich’s fabulous waterways promises a great future for rowing in the region.’

With an ultimate target of one million pounds, the project has secured funding of over £740,000 including a £200,000 grant from British Rowing.

The Foundation’s clubs have 400 members today – 50 more than at the end of 2010 and aim to attract a further 350 members over the next four years.

Its rowing clubs run hugely successful Learn to Row courses throughout the year, and offers free taster days to encourage newcomers to try recreational rowing for the first time.

 ‘I learnt to row in May 2009, and I’ve been rowing ever since,’ said Norwich Rowing Club’s Frances Kemp – a Learn to Row graduate who went on to claim a gold medal at the British Rowing Masters Championships in June this year.

‘I started because I thought it would be a marvellous way to keep fit and be outside. I don’t think I ever believed that I would win gold at a national championship!’

The Foundation is also very active in the Norfolk community, working with local schools and Sea Scout groups to provide new sporting opportunities in the region.

‘We want to be the place that everybody wants to come and row and canoe in,’ said trustee and Project Leader Max Heron.

‘I think that the future for Whitlingham Boathouses Foundation is fabulous.’

For more information about the Foundation, visit www.whitlinghamboathouses.co.uk.

If you would like to try recreational rowing, use the Explore Rowing club finder to discover your nearest accredited club.

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