British Rowing Awards: Rowing Project of the Year winner

Congratulations to Fulham Reach Boat Club who win the overall Rowing Project of the Year award for Boats Not Bars

The winner of the British Rowing Project of the Year award is Boats Not Bars, an innovative programme from Fulham Reach Boat Club, near Hammersmith. Each of the five projects nominated by their respective region for this year’s awards demonstrates how rowing can be a force for good and relevant beyond the sport.

A worthy winner, Boats Not Bars ‘aims to change lives, open doors and reduce reoffending through rowing’. Fulham Reach has set up a partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service to run five indoor rowing clubs across prisons in the south-east of England.

The programme is run by former GB athlete Imogen Walsh, who delivers sessions each week as well as setting training programmes to be completed by the inmates in their own time.

Crucially, the success of the programme hinges on release from prison where the club aims to partner with boat clubs across the country who will accept these young men and women in an effort to change their environments on release and prevent re-offending.

In addition to Boats Not Bars, there were four other excellent rowing projects nominated by their respective regions around the country. Read on to find out more about each project from their citations below.

Bristol Ariel Go Row Indoor project

The Bristol Ariel Go Row Indoor project was conceived three years ago in parallel with British Rowing’s own Go Row programme, initially to utilise club facilities when not in use by our water membership.

Under the leadership of Julien Tavener, Go Row Indoor coordinator, is has grown into a key adjunct to the club’s activities, bringing members of our local community into the club for activity many thought they could never do.

Our philosophy emphasises Go Row Indoor as an activity for all and it is good to see they are now developing a community of their own.

Rowing Together for Healthy Minds

Rowing Together for Healthy Minds (RTHM) was started in memory of rower René Zamudio, 22, who took his own life in January 2017.

The nomination is for Tommy Nicholson and co-creator Jack Walsh from Imperial College, London for their unending commitment to improving mental health in the rowing community.

The three key factors are:

  • RTHM was developed by full-time students who, alongside their studies, also played a huge part in their club leadership.
  • The reception from the rowing community would indicate that RTHM is exactly what is needed at a time of increasing drain on student well-being.
  • RTHM should be credited for its commitment to learning about mental ill health, the educational platforms it provides and the drive to embed a welfare support role in each affiliated club.

Row to Raise project

In February 2019 Kelda Wood completed the 3,000-mile Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge to become the first adaptive rower to solo row across the Atlantic.

Kelda, 47, is the founder of the charity Climbing Out, which runs outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self-esteem in people who have been through a life-changing illness, injury or trauma. As a result of the row, Kelda raised over £53,000 for this charity, securing its work well into the future.

Each day of the row, she rowed for a young person who shared their story on social media and made regular social media posts about the ups and downs of the row. As a result, many young people were inspired to take on new challenges themselves.

Warrington Youth Rowing

Warrington Youth Rowing (WYR) was founded in 2016 by Ben Dunne, former Head of Penketh School, and Richard Sinnott, from Warrington Rowing Club, with a simple objective: to engage with local pupils who would not normally have access to rowing and take them on a sporting journey with the ambition to change their lives.

Since then the scheme has become an established programme for Year 8 and 9 pupils who are on The Pupil Premium Register. Nine secondary schools from the state sector have joined the scheme.

The Henley Stewards Charitable Trust provide financial support to WYR.

The scheme has expanded and includes Mersey Youth Rowing – currently an indoor rowing programme for five schools in the Liverpool area.


Thanks to the British Rowing Awards Panel for their time selecting all the regional nominations in our Project of the Year Award – and congratulations to everyone. The panel consisted of Liz Behnke (British Rowing Board), Fred Gill (Blue Star Club), Rags Morstad (Women’s Captain, Trentham BC) and Andrew Johnson (Cantabridgian RC & former British Rowing Board member).

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