CEO Membership Column – May 2021

This month Andy looks forward to the green shoots of recovery


Enjoying the water at Lea RC (c) Simon Way

As the nation starts to lift its head from the last (and hopefully final) lockdown, we are starting to see green shoots of recovery in many sectors, and the same is true for sport and British Rowing.

Over the last month, it has been great to see more activity on the water, more hustle and bustle around the clubs that have opened and more rowers getting back into a rhythm and enjoying the sport they love whether that’s on the water or in the gym.

Whilst competition isn’t the only part of our sport, it’s clearly an important part. For this reason, we are conscious of doing everything we can to get our competition calendar back up and running. In addition to our guidance (which we continue to update on a regular basis), we have also adjusted and streamlined our processes to make it easier for competitions to change dates due to COVID-19 and for clubs to consider hosting new competitions to fill the gaps created by any cancellations.

We also recognise that competing is not everyone’s cup of tea, and held a recreational rowing seminar last month, exploring what good practice looks like in clubs and around the country. Thank you to those that participated and attended as the contribution was invaluable as we seek to encourage more people to take to the water over the summer and enjoy all aspects of our sport. There is more about recreational rowing here.

On the international stage, the GB rowers too have raced on the water in their first competition for 20 months at the European Rowing Championships putting in some very encouraging performances after so long training in their respective bubbles. The team finished with 12 medals, securing pole position on the medal table with five golds, four silvers and three bronze medals. As well as the medals, we were delighted to see our Para-rowing team included in the European Rowing Championships for the first time. A welcome addition as we approach 100 days to the Paralympic Games.

After so much planning behind the scenes, it was really encouraging to see our athletes grab the opportunity with both hands and set our Tokyo campaign in motion in such an impressive manner. Later in May, crews will travel to Lucerne for the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta and World Cup II where the team will have a chance to test themselves against a wider international field.

Before that it is Mental Health Awareness Week from 10-16 May. The events of the last year have really highlighted the importance of mental resilience during the pandemic, so this awareness week offers a much-needed spotlight.

Moving to Board news, you may have seen that our Chair, Mark Davies, has had his term extended by another year and that Peter Milhofer and Tina Kokkinos are joining British Rowing as Independent Directors. Their extensive and varied experience will be a huge asset to the organisation, as a whole – and especially to the work of both the Finance and Audit & Risk Committees.

Peter and Tina will be replacing John Hinnigan and Jonathan Vickers on the Board who have now completed their respective terms. I would like to thank John and Jonathan personally for their contributions to the Board and the Finance and Audit & Risk committees respectively. Their expertise and commitment to British Rowing since 2015 have been vital as our organisation has modernised our infrastructure in order to serve the rowing community in a more efficient way.

Before I sign off, I want to pay tribute to the volunteers across our sport. I’ve been blown away by the commitment shown by so many over the past year. In the face of constantly changing Government advice, it’s not been easy, and we are truly lucky to have such a great team of people across the grassroots of our sport.

As you return to your clubs, the gym and competitions – please do remember to say thank you. What you see of their commitment is likely to only be the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the efforts going on behind the scenes.

Andy Parkinson
British Rowing CEO

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