Sir Steve Redgrave, five-time Olympic gold medallist, officially opened Lea Rowing Club’s £1m boathouse development in Spring Hill at the weekend, thanks to a £100,000 grant from the Mayor of London: Sports Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
The grant has enabled Lea Rowing Club, who have occupied the site since the 1860s, to double its capacity and upgrade their existing facilities through improvements to their fitness suite and social clubhouse. The project has also allowed them to introduce an ‘adaptive rowing’ programme for participants with disabilities, only one of four London clubs to do so.
The club has experienced great success over its history, producing rowers that have turned out for Team GB at the Olympic Games as well as regular winners in the well-renowned Henley Royal Regatta and Cambridge vs. Oxford boat race. Lea Rowing hope to build on such success, with this new development expected to increase its membership by up to 600 over the next five years. The project received further funding from Sport England, British Rowing, London Marathon Charitable Trust, Youth Experience in Sport and the Colgan Foundation.
The Mayor’s Sports Facilities Fund is part of the Mayor’s commitment to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the Fund, which is managed on the Mayor’s behalf by the Football Foundation, is to increase participation levels in sport in London through the funding of affordable, good quality facilities within local communities in every London Borough.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game. The Foundation also manages the MoL:SFF programme on behalf of City Hall.
Sir Steve Redgrave, who rowed at Lea Regatta as a boy, said: “It is great to see grassroots sport thriving at the Lea Rowing Club and I am delighted to be opening the new Jimmy O’Neill Boathouse. This will particularly help support the junior rowing section of the club, something very close to Jimmy’s heart, having been responsible for coaching so many aspiring young Lea rowers over the years. I fully expect to see even more Lea crews out on the water and racing at regattas all over the country, representing Hackney and East London in their distinctive bright orange kit.”
Lea Rowing Club Captain, Richard Ellis, said: “The GB Rowing team had inspiring success in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. We now have a real grassroots legacy of the Olympics in East London to inspire future generations to take up the sport at all levels. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the funders without whom this would not be possible.”