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27th Jun, 2022

Stratford is Parasport Club of the Year

Liam Moakes 21st Dec, 2020

STRATFORD Boat Club’s adaptive squad has been crowned Great Britain Paralympic Association’s 2020 Parasport Club of the Year.

An elated Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach at Stratford, said: “Well, well, well – who would have thought it? It is a humbling accolade given the fantastic work being done by the other nominees for the award as well. This is recognition of a great team effort over several years.

“The Club of the Year title should help us progress some of the plans we have set out for the months and years ahead. We hope it will make it easier to get sponsorship and funding during 2021.

“We will not be resting on our laurels! There are many more tangible targets we have yet to achieve. We still have a long way to go to improve provision and facilities for the disabled community. This is true of most, if not all, sports.”

The Parasport Club of the Year financial award is worth in the region of £1,000 which can be used towards new adaptive rowing kit, access facilities or anything to benefit provision for the disabled.

As part of the award, a top Paralympics GB athlete will spend a day at the club in 2021.

“This should be an inspiration to the whole club membership, not just our section,” added Dewdney.

“Parasport congratulated Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad on their great and often humorous Club of the Year campaign and specifically the important message it contained on inclusivity within community sports.

“Stratford Boat Club would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Stratford Observer, Observer readers, the people of Warwickshire and their families for their magnificent support by voting for us.”

The adaptive squad’s win in October with Parasport Club of the Month now seems a long time ago but Stratford Boat Club’s message remains as before – ‘if there’s a will, there’s usually a way to get people rowing no matter their circumstances’.

The Club launched its adaptive section in 2015 with two rowers and now have six or seven different boats serving a squad of more than ten.

One of the two rowers who joined the club in 2015 – Kingsley Ijomah – is African champion and will represent his native Nigeria at the 2021 Paralympics.

Stratford has been coaching another athlete on the GB Paralympic Development Pathway during 2020. However, Dewdney’s coaching philosophy is rooted in inclusivity rather than high performance.

“If we can do it and if it’s safe, we will have a go,” he said. “We don’t select on how good someone’s going to be, we just look at how we can make it work for that particular individual. We can help those who just want a paddle, enjoy the social side and be independent or those who want to go all the way up to the top of the sport.”

Stratford’s adaptive rowers have wide-ranging needs, including participants with spinal cord injuries, hemiplegia, visual impairment and autism. They are supported by five qualified coaches plus a large number of volunteers who provide safety, launch driving and much else besides.

If you are interested in trying something new, getting outdoors on the water, seeing what is possible or just assisting with Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad, get in touch using the contact section of the club’s website at http://www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact, marking the subject box ‘Adaptive’.

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