CEO Membership Column – March 2022

This month Alastair focuses on clubs and the community


Learning to row at Lea RC (c) Simon Way

Welcome to our March membership newsletter as the first flowers of spring appear and the daylight continues to lengthen bringing some much-needed feeling of optimism.

However, the world seems to turn in mysterious ways and our thoughts most recently have been with our counterparts in Ukraine as the war against them from Russia takes its toll. Having made contact with World Rowing stating our concerns about the ongoing invasion we were delighted to see their quick and public condemnation of the war and the banning of Russian and Belarussian athletes and officials from all future competitions.

We have launched a special Row the Distance challenge to support Ukraine with all profits split between UNICEF and the Red Cross for their respective Ukraine crisis appeals so please do get involved to help out where we can on behalf of the rowing family.

We also know it’s been a tough winter for many clubs around the country with recent storms bringing high winds and flooding. If your club has been affected, then please do let us know as support from Sport England and Sport Wales is available, so please do check it out here.

On a more positive note we have welcomed the news that all remaining legal restrictions around COVID-19 are now removed, as part of the Government’s “Living with Covid” plan, we have updated our guidance for clubs to reflect this. Coming out of COVID creates a welcome opportunity for clubs to open and recover fully.

Since joining British Rowing as interim CEO last November, my main focus has been to implement our updated strategy Rowing Everyone’s Sport.

A key focus in the months ahead will be prioritising how we support our members into the summer as the regatta season brings welcome opportunities for clubs to showcase what they can offer within their local community.

With competitions in mind, we are now regularly updating members on their weekend racing performances via their membership account so you can see how you did and even share your stats with friends. We would love to hear if you are finding this helpful, or if there is anything else that you would love to see us develop too.

We have also launched a new content strand for masters rowers and the series is fronted by Rosie Mayglothling, our former Director of Pathway Development. Aimed at rowers over 45 and beyond, who row both competitively or recreationally, the series is designed to help masters maximise their enjoyment of the sport. Look out for new articles every Sunday on British Rowing Plus and via our social media and a bespoke email.

There’s a lot of great work going on from every single region in terms of welcoming new people to the sport too. Our charitable foundation, Love Rowing, continues to fund great projects looking to grow and reach new audiences. Some great examples of clubs opening up their doors to new people have been seen with Tees RC and Teesside University successfully reaching out to their wider community, attracting prospective rowers from local Asian families who have been keen to get involved. Trafford RC have been seeking ways to encourage more female rowers into the club too to great effect. These are just two examples – there are many more.

In addition, we recently launched our GROW Programme which will be recruiting coaches to reach out to local communities at clubs around the country. If your club would like to apply, then please do fill in the application here by Friday 18 March.

Internally, we have made a few key staff appointments recently, including welcoming Andrew Randell as Women’s Olympic Head Coach. Marieke Hagemans has also been appointed our Director of Membership and Rowing Community.

Alastair Marks
British Rowing CEO