Members of an historic Tyneside rowing club are hoping to weigh in with more trophies this season after winning a four-figure grant from a regional employer to upgrade its fitness suite.
Based on the River Tyne at Newburn, Tyne Amateur Rowing Club (ARC) dates back to 1852 and is one of the oldest sporting clubs in the whole of the country.
After moving into a new clubhouse 18 months ago, the Club has been looking at ways of improving the gym equipment it was able to offer members to help them to be better prepared for the summer of regional and national regattas.
After winning a £5,500 grant from North East property, mining and renewable energy firm the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, Tyne ARC has invested in two new squat cages, which ensure that weight training can be carried out safely, two rowing benches and a variety of ‘free weights’ equipment.
And the Club committee is now looking at ways in which it might be able to make the fitness facilities more available to people living in the surrounding area.
Tyne Amateur Rowing Club, which carries the British Rowing Clubmark for excellence, has around 400 members, half of whom are currently active rowers, and its junior, novice, male, female and masters crews compete successfully in events all over the UK.
It offers rowing training and coaching six days a week, and holds regular junior and senior ‘Learn To Row’ taster sessions to encourage potential rowers to give the sport a try.
Vice captain Dave Higgins says: “Our new clubhouse has highlighted just how old our existing fitness equipment has got and how much in need of upgrading it had become, especially if we were going to get more people from the local community in to use them.
“Gym users rightfully have expectations about the quality of the equipment that they’re going to be using, and we knew we would need to match them if we wanted to meet our goals of increasing local participation in what we offer.
“The new equipment has made a massive difference to our training sessions, especially on days where we’ve not been able to get on the water – it’s used pretty much every afternoon and evening, which helps to bring more revenue in for the club, and we know lots more people are interested in coming along, so we’re now trying to find new ways of opening the clubhouse up for longer periods each day, so that the gym can be available whenever they want to access it.
“Without the generous support we’ve had from the Banks Group, we would have had to do a great deal more fundraising which would have taken us many more months, and we would only have been able to buy the equipment piecemeal.
“Banks’ contribution has really accelerated the process of reaching our goal for the gym, and we’re confident of seeing the results of the hard work that our rowers have been doing therein at regattas throughout the season.”
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Tyne Amateur Rowing Club is the very epitome of a successful community sports club, and we hope the new gym equipment helps them achieve even more success both on and off the water.”
For further information on the Tyne Amateur Rowing Club, please visit www.tynerowingclub.org
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.