The Christmas Holiday is on the near horizon and it has been another eventful half term.  The Warrington Schools have settled into the winter routine, which sadly means that the gym at WRC is being very heavily used and Mrs Mersey is being left alone to rest on her bed. There are some impressive young athletes coming through and they are all working hard in the gym. From the evidence we have seen, WYR will be sending a very strong team to The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC) in February.  Let’s hope we can harvest a few medals to go with the ones from previous years.

I am pleased with the way everybody in Liverpool has rolled up their sleeves and is making the most of a bad job. This half term has been a challenge and next half term will continue to be so. The schools have reacted well and have found areas that we can use to run indoor rowing sessions. As in Warrington there are some talented young athletes emerging and some of the scores are very impressive. MYR should be in a good position to send a strong team for their first visit to NJIRC and let’s hope they can get onto the podium. I would like to thank our coaches in Liverpool as they are doing a great job. The hassle they have picking up the rowing machines is way beyond the job description, but they get on with it and then use their own cars to transport the machines to the schools. This is all to ensure the scheme keeps moving forward, so thanks Paul, Sam and Jess (I know it’s a pain in the sitting area as I do it sometimes!).

I do keep referring to NJIRC and for those of you that have not been it is an incredible experience for the youngsters. It will be held at the Copper Box Arena again this year and as you may remember this is one of the iconic venues for the 2012 Olympics. The date is Friday 28th February and the plan is for the MYR crew to leave Lime Street at 7.00am and WYR to leave Bank Quay at 7.20am. Both trains arrive at Euston at 9.03 and 9.06. We will then walk to St Pancras and catch another train, arriving on site just after 10am. After a full day’s racing we will return to St Pancras and find somewhere to eat (probably McDonalds). Trains arrive back at Lime Street at 20.20 and Bank Quay at 19.49. For each school that has a pupil selected for NJIRC, we require a member of staff to accompany them so please be thinking about the date. We will pay all rail fares, competition fees, kit and evening meal.

As you can imagine the NJIRC trip is a huge expense and it will cost us the best part of £3.5k. It is though, an important part of what we do and as such we hold a major fundraising dinner to pay for the trip. This year’s event was in early November and was once again a fantastic event. The event consists of a four course meal with a different wine to accompany each dish.  This year we were joined by over 100 guests, including Mark Davies, Chair of British Rowing and I am pleased to report that all our guests were very generous with their support. Next year’s event is provisionally booked for 13th November 2020 and your support would be greatly appreciated, more details later in the year. The trip in February has also benefited from the direct support of The Henley Stewards’ Charitable Trust and we thank them for their continued support.

To qualify for the NJIRC trip our youngsters have to be selected and we use our own indoor competitions to do this.

The Liverpool Competition is going to be held on Wednesday 29th January at Cardinal Heenan. The plan at present is to run 2 sessions, one for the girls and one for the boys, but more details will be sent through by Jo Murray.

The Warrington Competition (which will also double up as The Cheshire School Games) will be held at Birchwood School Sports Hall on Thursday 30th January. Again there will be 2 main sessions and schools can decide if they want to do morning or afternoon. Penny Moorfield will be sending through details.

These events are going ahead with help from Concept Rowing Machines and Dan Heatherington of British Rowing.

In Liverpool we recently held our first capsize drill and the help of Nicky Rea and De La Salle was greatly appreciated. The drill gives our youngsters a taste of what might happen should their boat capsize; it teaches them to stay with their boat and use it as a floatation device. During this exercise we also test the swimming ability of our athletes. Interestingly the standard of swimming in Liverpool was significantly higher than in Warrington. Next year our capsize drills will be in the week after our Welcome Evenings, in order to find any children that are scared of water before we get to deep into the programme.

I am in communication with Liverpool John Moores University as they are hoping to conduct a study and evaluation of our work. It does though look like their project will now not start till the next academic year. This has the potential to be a very valuable piece of work and I hope the paper work jungle will be sorted by September enabling the project to start.

In November, Ben and I were invited to speak at The River and Rowing Museum Conference on Rowing Futures. It was a very interesting experience and we were speaking alongside London Youth Rowing and Fulham Reach, we work closely with these London based organisations and our aims are very similar. We highlighted our work and were genuinely taken aback by the emotional and enthusiastic response we got to our presentation. Whilst we were in Henley we took the opportunity to catch up with The Henley Stewards’ Charitable Trust. As you are probably aware we are funded primarily by this organisation and we had a very positive meeting with them. The Trust is very keen for us to keep going and move forward, possibly looking at more sites in the future.

Please feel free to come and visit us, we are always happy to welcome guests; we might even get you in a boat!

Richard Sinnott