Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club.jpg

Open seas

Rowing initiative improves wellbeing of female participants

A rowing club in Fife is improving the health and wellbeing of local women through a new tailored initiative.

The Access to Rowing programme has seen Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club, in partnership with The Cottage Family Centre charity in Kirkcaldy, introduce eight women to the growing sport of coastal rowing. 

The eight women, who are part of The Cottage Family Centre – which provides a range of support to families and individuals vulnerable to social exclusion – were selected through the centre's referral system and their support worker.

A grant from Baillie Gifford allowed Kinghorn Coastal, which is part of Burntisland & Kinghorn Community Sport Hub, to run the programme and provide the women with an opportunity to try an activity they may never have thought of taking up.

They began the programme as complete novices, but after regular weekly activity, guided by more experienced oarsmen and women from the club, their confidence grew - along with their love for the sport.

Laura Dewar, a participant on the programme, said: “I was extremely nervous to go out on the skiff to begin with, but once I had gone out a couple of times I realised how much I enjoyed it. After having overcome these initial fears, I feel I have built up the self-confidence to be able to try new things and to speak out, something I was lacking before.”

Kinghorn Loch was their first port of call as they got to grips with the necessary skills to progress to the coastal waters of the Firth of Forth. Their regular sessions saw a positive impact on their physical and mental health with the majority continuing to participate beyond the funded programme. The programme even led to one of the women receiving a gold medal at Eskmuthe Coastal Rowing Club’s regatta – the club’s first ever regatta gold.

Commenting on her success, Michelle Wallace said: “The programme has been brilliant for me.

"I have been rowing now for over a year and I can honestly say it’s been one of the best years of my life, topped off with winning a gold medal.

"I am really grateful to the club and The Cottage on giving me the opportunity and for introducing me to the sport to begin with.”

Due to its success, the club has gained further funding to introduce another eight women from The Cottage to coastal rowing through the Weir Trust. The first-year graduates have continued to engage with the programme, acting as mentors to the new group, helping with coaching as well as sharing their own experiences of the programme.

Philip Godding, chair for Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club, said: “Being able to give this group of young women the ability to take up coastal rowing has been extremely humbling and fulfilling. I have seen women who were experiencing loneliness, lack of confidence and not participating in organised sport become self-confident and great role models to others.”

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The hubs network is one of sportscotland’s key programmes, using funding from The National Lottery to bring sports clubs and local partners together to develop and grow the sport offering in the community.

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