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Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club secure combined funding of £14,000 from Sport England via the National Lottery and East Herts Council

More people will be able to get into the exciting sport of kayak racing on the River Stort after Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club secured £14,000 of funding.

The Southmill Lock-based club has been able to buy five beginner racing kayaks and support three volunteers taking their coaching qualifications thanks to a Sport England grant of £9,600 via the National Lottery.

And a further £4,400 is to follow in the form of an East Herts Council community grant, with that cash going towards the purchase of a further five kayaks suitable as follow-on racing boats.

Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club coach Jacque Cayford leading a group of teenagers for their first session in beginner racing boats (17663147)
Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club coach Jacque Cayford leading a group of teenagers for their first session in beginner racing boats (17663147)

It means the club can run a programme of beginner training with the aim of tempting people into becoming members and enjoying the sport regularly.

A shortage of coaches brought recruitment into the club to an almost complete stop in 2018. A record number of people were keen to come along, but the club simply did not have enough coaches to teach new paddlers as well as train existing ones.

Like most racing canoe clubs, BSCC is 100% volunteer-powered and it typically costs in excess of £700 for a coach to become qualified, often at their own expense.

Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club(17663144)
Bishop's Stortford Canoe Club(17663144)

"We are delighted to have secured this investment to enable us to support our volunteer coaches," said club chairman Andy White. "Qualified coaches are the heart of the club and without them we cannot thrive.

"Having the new beginner equipment will allow us to teach brand new paddlers in groups of similar ability which will be more efficient for the coaches and more fun for the participants."

Thanks to the smart new boats provided by the Sport England/National Lottery grant, and with the new trainees already acting as assistants to established coaches, the club is now offering weekend beginner courses for adults and older teens new to the sport, as well as a programme of four taster sessions on Sundays for youngsters, usually aged between 10 and 15.

A weekend course took place last month and there will be another this month. A third may take place in November depending on demand and the weather, and more will follow in the spring.

"The club is hugely grateful to Sport England and East Herts Council for their support, and of course to everyone who plays the National Lottery," said club secretary Angela Aldam.

"Anybody interested in giving kayaking a go should have a look at our website and get their name on the invitation list so we can let you know as soon as dates are announced."

Visit www.stortfordcanoe.org.uk for more details.

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