We stopped operating on 17th March and sadly, there was no Youth Rowing activity until Sir Thomas Boteler braved the sunshine on the 21st of September. The shadow that Covid-19 cast will be remembered for decades to come. The dark days of spring and early summer are hopefully being replaced by an autumn term, full of hope, imagination and eager young rowers.

We have not been idle during the downtime and have taken the opportunity to review all our back-office activities. Elaine, our new Trustee, has done a sterling job sorting out all the paper work involved in keeping our coaches qualified, up to date and effective. Club and school contracts are also being implemented as well as policies to keep our youngsters safe. These policies can be viewed on our website: www.warringtonyouthrowing.org.uk.

Sadly, we will lose one of the highlights of 2020/21; our trip to The Copper Box in London for NJIRC has fallen foul of Covid. This a great shame as it has become the focus of our winter indoor programme. This will also mean that our social highlight, a Fundraising Dinner at Mere Court, will also be a casualty of Covid. The dinner has been a great show case for us as well as a major fundraiser; we can assure everybody it will be back. The lack of our trip to NJIRC means that we will be reshaping our indoor activities and there is an exciting new programme being developed by our friends at London Youth Rowing. It will involve a number of sites in GB and other bases around the world are also being invited to take part. The beauty of this scheme is the low cost in money and time, it can be completed during a normal session. More news of this exciting new venture will follow as it becomes available.

We have also undergone some major changes.

Mersey Youth Rowing has moved house. The arrangements that we had at Mersey Rowing Club and Liverpool Watersports Centre were becoming increasingly unpractical. It was fun to row just under the iconic Liverpool sky line, but sadly things didn’t work out. So, we have relocated to Liverpool Victoria (Vics) Rowing Club, which for those who don’t know is based on the West Float Dock, Birkenhead. Vics have welcomed us with open arms and there are a number of advantages to being based there. Amongst these will be the use of their gym area in the winter months – a big improvement for our coaches who spent most of last year lugging ergos around the City and delivering sessions in our schools. It has though meant that our pool of schools is changing, for some getting to Birkenhead is just a step too far. Ironically, for some schools it is easier and so schools such as North Liverpool and De La Salle will continue with the project. We have added Fazackerley and we look forward to welcoming them all to our new home. We will now be casting our net in Birkenhead in search of new rowers from the local area.

Our coaches have also changed, Paul has moved on and Jess will now be working solely in Warrington. We have though gained Jessica and Libby who are both at University in Liverpool. Ralph also joins the gang that will be led by last year’s coach, Sam. Our Ambassadors for Mersey now include Professor Zoe Knowles of Liverpool John Moores University; she is keen to get involved helping to promote Mersey Youth Rowing.

Northwich Youth Rowing is starting to blossom into life. This was a logical step for us as links between Warrington and Northwich Rowing Clubs have always been strong. Northwich is an ideal base for us to strike out into the heartland of Cheshire as well as serving the town of Northwich. Initial interest has been strong with 8 schools registering a keen interest. Covid though has damped the enthusiasm of some schools joining the programme. NYR have started to work with Knutsford Academy and it is hoped Hartford and Weaverham Schools will be starting soon.

Kevin will be leading the NYR coaching team that will also include Carole, Helen, Mary and Dave. Their line-up of Ambassadors is impressive with ex-WYR coach and now Police Officer, Phil Lyons, stepping into more ceremonial shoes. He is joined by the pride of Northwich Rowing Club Matt Langridge, current Olympic Champion and passionate supporter of the scheme. Ex England and Lancashire cricketer Peter Martin also joins the team. He is new to the sport and is involved at Northwich as a parent, but is very keen on youth development in sport.

Warrington have also added a couple of new coaches and we are delighted that Janet and Lauren will be joining us. Our new Ambassador is Ric Egington and he will be dropping in from time to time when he is in the area. Ric is a former junior at Warrington and went on to win two Olympic Medals and two World Championships. Our Warrington schools are returning and we are close to full strength. We are delighted that New Horizons will be joining us this academic year and it will be interesting to see what effect our sport has on the pupils. Despite this, the cloud of Covid is still hanging around, it may dampen our activities. Strange, very strange times, but we will keep pushing on.

WYR would like to express out thanks to all the Heads and Schools that have started and are just about to start this academic year. We fully understand how difficult and different this year is; your vote of confidence by simply continuing with us is greatly appreciated. For those schools that have yet to start please let us know if there is anything we can do to help, our programme is very flexible and our coaches are ready to get going.

The Half Term break has just been and we were able to run a British Rowing Coaching Course at WRC. This was the first and only course to run in GB since lockdown and we are very grateful to Rachel Hooper and the Coach Education Team at BR for getting it off the ground. Things though were very different, the first day was done through a virtual platform and the practical days were all very Covid safe. The success of the course means that Joe Peacock of North Liverpool is now a qualified rowing coach. As is Rachel Ince of Knutsford Academy and Paul McKean of Cardinal Newman Catholic High School. It is very good of theses teachers to give up their holiday time to enhance their knowledge of the sport. As well as the 3 teachers, 5 new members of our coaching team were also able to complete the course. WYR have now put almost 30 coaches through their basic training, a great way to facilitate the expansion of our sport.

Capsize drills have not yet happened but I am waiting to see if we can get one organised for late November or early December, it all depends on Covid!

A couple of our old girls are embarking on selection for the GB Junior Rowing Team and this can be an expensive process. To help them along the way Warrington Youth Rowing has set up a fund called First Step, the aim of which is to help our alumni realise their dreams of representing their country. If you are in a position to do so, any contributions gratefully received!

Lastly if you know about Easyfundraising and you don’t support anybody, please can I politely ask you to list Warrington Youth Rowing as your chosen charity. The same goes for Amazon Prime, we are now on their list. These two schemes cost nothing to contribute to but can make a difference.

All the best