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Future of adaptive rowing looks buoyant at Pengwern

After a fundraising event last month raised over £800, rowers who use Pengwern Boat Club’s adapted equipment are looking forward to even better accessibility at the club.

The Magnificent Severn sponsored row was the brainchild of University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) history student Holly-Elizabeth Smith, who says, “The idea came from a conversation after an afternoon on the river about the Rio Olympics and the conditions the Olympic rowers had to deal with. It’s so important to have adaptive sport to give everyone an equal opportunity to take part.”

The event featured rowers from UCS, Pengwern, Shrewsbury Sixth Form and Harper Adams, who together aimed to cover the length of the River Severn on the ergometer rowing machines. But, far from rowing ‘only’ the intended 354km, the rowers managed more than double that distance. The event was supported by Anytime Fitness and participants were awarded with free pizza from Domino’s Pizza.

Darren and Craig are two of the rowers who use the adapted boats, which feature additional buoyancy and more stable seating. Darren explains, “I sustained an injury last August when I was climbing, and I was eventually talked into trying rowing! I really enjoy being out on the water and being active – it’s actually really exhilarating and it takes a lot of concentration and physical adjustment, just as climbing does.”

Craig adds, “You see a different side of the world when you’re on the water, and you also get to see a lot of wildlife. The extra flotation devices means it’s hard for the boat to tip, so you can focus on the rowing rather than being anxious about capsizing.”

Christina Morgan is one of Pengwern’s coxes, and she’s passionate about making rowing more accessible. She says, “I cox a variety of people, from Shrewsbury High School rowers to the ‘vets’, the youngest of whom is about 64. The money raised the Magnificent Severn rowers will go towards helping more people get involved with rowing. Better ramps would make it easier for our wheelchair rowers to get down to the pontoon, and ultimately we want to fit a lift so everyone can make it up to the club house to socialise.”

Club captain Sharon Whitton Clements adds, “The club functions because our members volunteer their time and resources. Pengwern is striving to be a more inclusive club and its members will continue to fundraise so we can make it as accessible as possible. We want to offer, not just a sport, but an experience we feel can be enjoyed by all.”

After the Magnificent Severn event, the club raised another £800 hosting a ceilidh, and there are more fundraising feats planned for the coming months. 

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