HUNDREDS of spectators are expected to gather by the banks of the river this summer to watch competitors from far and wide compete in the annual Rosconn Group Stratford Boat Club Regatta.

The event takes place on Saturday June 16th and is organised by Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club.

The regatta has been taking place in Stratford since 1879. As well as Stratford’s own crews, the event draws competitors, able-bodied and adaptive, and their supporters from clubs such as Bewdley Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Association, Evesham Rowing Club, Nottingham & Union Rowing Club, Royal Grammar School Worcester, Stowe Sculling Club, Warwick Boat Club, Becket School Rowing Club, Cotswold Rowing Club, Holloway Scullers, Leicester Rowing Club, Merton College, Monkton Combe School, Monmouth Comprehensive School and Northwich Rowing Club.

Racing is on the town stretch of the river from Holy Trinity Church to the Club grounds by The Tramway Bridge. As well as the rowing contingent, the regatta attracts a lot of interest from visitors to the town who come down to the Bancroft Gardens and the Recreation Ground to enjoy the racing, barbecue and the beer and tea tent in the Club grounds, which are open to all.

Racing starts around 8.30am and finishes around 6.30pm with 130 races, 169 entrants and four divisions last year.

Paul Hazelwood, Stratford Boat Club’s Treasurer, says: “We are so pleased to have the Rosconn Group sponsor our regatta again this year. Their involvement shows Rosconn’s commitment to the local Stratford and wider Midland economy and social cohesion. Together with the co-operation of other organisations and companies who make their living on the river such as the Countess of Evesham restaurant boat, Canal & River Tours, Bancroft Cruisers, the Environment Agency, Avon Boating, the Sea Cadets and Avon Navigation Trust, Rosconn’s sponsorship is essential to make the regatta viable.”

Heart of England Mencap, which supports local people with learning disabilities, has been chosen as one of two nominated charities, alongside St Basils.

Heart of England Mencap already benefits from close links with Stratford Boat Club, as Cath Errington, the charity’s Fundraising Manager, explains:

“Enabling local people with learning disabilities to get involved in meaningful activities is a key part of what we do. One of those activities is rowing, working with Stratford Boat Club in adaptive boats, and our customers gain so much from it. To be a part of the regatta for a second year is a real privilege. We owe a huge thanks not only to the Boat Club but to the Rosconn Group too – a company which continues to do so much to support us and all that we do.”

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive coach, “Stratford Boat Club has an outreach into the wider community and especially those with a physical disability, sensory or learning impairment. For these athletes, the Club has equipment and training can be modified to meet their needs. The benefits for the Club and athletes are that they make a new circle of friends and take exercise.”

St Basils provides support to young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

Fundraising Officer Sian Dhillon said: “St Basils is extremely proud to be associated with such a historic and prestigious event. We would like to thank Rosconn Group for making this collaboration with the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and Heart of England Mencap possible. The Rosconn Group Stratford Boat Club Regatta is not only supporting St Basils and the young people we work with, but is showing all involved are committed to improving the lives of those in their communities. On behalf of all the young people we support, we would like to extend our gratitude.”

As well as raising awareness, there will be plenty of opportunities for both nominated charities to fundraise on regatta day, setting up their stalls by the riverside to run a tombola and similar fun and games.

In the evening, Heart of England Mencap will also host a night of music, food and drink at the Boat Club, open to all.

Paul Stanton, President of Stratford Boat Club, says: “The regatta is a day when we open our Club not only to visiting competing crews but especially to the general public who have the opportunity of coming into the grounds, sampling the barbecue, tea tent and bar but also a chance to meet and talk to our sponsored charities – Heart of England Mencap and St Basils – and understand the amazing input they have to the local Midlands area

Daniel O’Donnell, Managing Director of Rosconn Group, says: “We are delighted to nominate Heart of England Mencap and St Basils as this year’s chosen charities. We are proud to sponsor the event, it’s such an important local sporting occasion and it’s wonderful to support such a friendly club that encourages people of all abilities to take up rowing as a sport or just for fun.”

Other Gold Sponsors for the regatta include Burgis & Bullock and Bancroft Cruisers. If you would like to become a Gold Sponsor, please contact christopherbest03@gmail.com

For more information, go to www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/regatta-2018