Thursday, February 9, 2023

A new wave on the River Thames

Screenshot 2019-07-15 at 11.05.58

A NEW wave of investment, funded by the Port of London Authority (PLA), is helping clubs up and down the tidal Thames get more people involved in sport on the river.

Grants for equipment, ranging from canoes, kayaks and paddles to buoyancy aids and lifejackets, have been awarded by the PLA to organisations spanning the 95-mile course of the tidal river, from Teddington to the North Sea, who are working to expand the number of people taking to the water for a growing range of activities, including stand up paddle boarding.

The beneficiaries include Dartford Cambria Sea Scouts, who are using a £10,000 PLA donation to buy new sailing dinghies and other key kit, enabling them to help more members enjoy the river safely.

An £8,000 donation meanwhile has enabled Gravesend Regatta Society to buy a safety boat and new lifejackets.

Awards of between £2,000 and £5,000 have also been made by the PLA to the Alexandra Yacht Club in Southend-on-Sea, the AHOY Centre in Deptford, Twickenham Yacht Club and the Third Osterley Sea Scouts.

The grants are financed by a Sports Participation Fund, initiated by the PLA as part of its 2035 Thames Vision project, working to maximise use of the river for recreation, as well as freight and passenger transportation, whilst also improving the environment.

Nadine Collins-Smith, head of Thames Vision delivery at the PLA, said: “We are determined to make sure that more people are able to improve their quality of life through better access to sport and recreation on the River Thames.

“Meeting our ambition relies on close partnership with clubs, working hard at grassroots level, to widen the opportunities available to get out on the water, especially for people and communities with no existing link to the river.”

Steve Newton, Group Scout Leader of Dartford Cambria Sea Scouts, said: “This generous donation will make a big difference, making it possible for more of our young people to get afloat and develop their sailing skills.

“As well as the experience and life skills this brings them, this can also lead to qualifications through our position as a Royal Yachting Association training centre.”

The awards were made following a competitive bidding process, launched in the spring. A further round of bids for funds is likely to start in November.

Phil Walton, vice chair of the Gravesend Regatta Society, said: “With roots dating back to 1846, we are keen to expand our work to engage local people with sports and leisure on a key amenity that we are lucky enough to have right on our doorstep.

“This PLA funding will be vital in helping us do just that and maintain one of the borough’s finest traditions.”

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