Our client Guildford Rowing Club is featured in Support Through Sport with a lengthy artice on their Adaptive Rowing.
Support through Sport UK had the pleasure of chatting to Guildford Rowing Club’s Robert Hall and Danny Skillman about the club’s adaptive rowing sessions.
Hi Robert and Danny. Huge thanks for chatting to us today. To begin, can we ask when, and why, Guildford Rowing Club started offering adaptive rowing sessions?
We first started offering sessions in the early 2000s when a former member of our club – Simon Goody (who’s now the British guru on classification for adaptive and para rowing) – introduced a few people to the club who he thought could make it into the British Paralympic team. Two of these people did indeed make it into the team: Helene Raynsford – who won the first ever Paralympic gold medal at Beijing – and Vicki Hansford, who took a silver in the four. A few years later, in about 2010, I (Robert) was winding down from work and so decided that we should start up the adaptive sessions again. At about that same time, a lady called Claire – who’s a wheelchair user – approached the club about getting involved in rowing. I began by holding her up on a rowing machine and, from there, we acquired some special seats for rowing machines and have since built up a whole fleet of specially-adapted boats (five singles and one double, with another double on the way). This kit has all been funded by external sources. Members of the adaptive squad have won medals at several Rowing World Championships and at the 2016 Rio Olympics (gold), as well as at many local and regional events.
What advice would you give to other rowing clubs – or sports clubs in general – who would like to set up adaptive, or para, squads or sessions?
I think just do it. Just start. We’ve had a number of clubs come and visit us to seek advice, but it’s not as difficult to do as people might think. The three key things that you need are: (1) equipment (and I’d say that this is almost the easiest of the three things to get as people are really responsive and supportive when you have a story to tell), (2) participants and (3) volunteers. All of these things are critical and there’s nothing worse than when we have people who want to row but we can’t cater for them, or volunteers who don’t have anything to do as we don’t have enough participants. However, over the last few years, we’ve had a fair turnover of people and we’re now one of the most active adaptive rowing clubs in the country.
How big an adaptive rowing squad does Guildford Rowing Club now have?
We currently have about 10 to 12 people.
If someone is reading this article and is interested in trying out adaptive rowing at your club, who should they contact?
You can contact us here. We’d also stress that you don’t have to know anything about rowing to become a volunteer; there are so many different ways that you can help us.
Thanks so much for talking to us, both, and for showing us your fantastic, inclusive club.