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-Kat C

Age group: Under 40

Club: Bewdley Rowing Club

‘Pub and Club’ starter and rowing journey

I came to it as a substitute for a crew and then ended up having to do it after only one training session! I loved the competitiveness of racing, nothing’s changed! 

13 years later, I can row, scull and cox, (you’d have to ask my coach how well!)  love competing and the desire to continue to progress is still there. I’ve won numerous local regattas and heads, as well as medals at national and Henley Masters, both rowing and coxing in the same competition! I’ve also won a World masters coxing medal and this I have been training hard for the Henley Masters, in a single. 

Progression in the sport as a whole: I’m a Level 2 coach, regional coaching rep, club membership and regatta sec, Learn To Row co-ordinator/helper and was vice captain for three years and captain for two. Oh and I nearly forgot, I’m now doing an umpires course. 


Age goup: Under 40

Club: Lea RC

What drew you to take a Learn to Row course?: I wanted to be outside, all my exercise was indoors and it felt like a waste, especially when it’s nice and sunny. Although I’m happy rowing in the sun, rain, sleet and hailstones.

How was your experience?: I enjoyed it and thought I’d get rowing down in six sessions. Three years later, lots of training and racing later I’m still working on it – forever working on it and loving it.

Where has rowing led you? What are you up to now?: Still rowing! It’s a part of my life and routine. I’ve raced a little and although the actual racing isn’t a huge deal to me the process, the faff (and learning/fixing) involved with boats and time spent with people training and a lot of time spent in the cafe is always a pleasure. The community and mix of people is great, people give up a lot of their time to enable and encourage others to enjoy the sport and now I can give a little back too.


-Joanna Howard

Age group: Over 40

Club: Staines BC

Learn to Row is a great gateway to the sport of rowing. It’s open to all and attracts a truly diverse rowing community. It can be a platform to higher level rowing, competition or simply enable  exercise, friendship and wellbeing.

-Helen Holroyd

Club: Staines BC Age: 32

In my 50’s I fancied trying a new sport, so in 2014 I signed up to the Learn to Row at Staines.

Mine was the first course run by Staines Boat Club! Our excellent coaches Shannon and Greg  were calm, clear and encouraging. I’m so pleased I did it!

Since then I have experienced some adventures and fun at regattas. I’m still rowing and enjoying the easy companionship of the club, plus the joy of being on the river.

-Seren Prendiville

Age group: Under 40

Club: Taunton RC & Wimbleball RC

Date started – January 2020 (two taster sessions, six learn to row sessions and some further coached development sessions after the learn to row course). 

What drew you to take a Learn to Row course: I had seen people rowing the local river and it looked fun. The Taunton RC website advertised two free taster sessions, so it was a no brainer to give it a go.

-How was it?: Great fun! The coach was so welcoming and had the patience of a saint! He made sure I had the basics I needed on and off the water before I joined the members’ sessions. 

What type of rowing are you doing now?: Sculling 1x, 2x, 4x. Taunton don’t teach sweep at learn to row (narrow river), so we haven’t tried that yet. 

Sculling in a single is quite a daunting prospect, but the learn to row and development course got me there without mishap and I haven’t looked back. I now row three to five times per week in the summer and some friendly club members have offered to help me train for my first race. Hats off to the coaches and volunteers without whom it wouldn’t be possible! 

-Gill Hawkey

Age: Over 60

Club: Taunton RC

My first ever club was Wimbleball in Taunton. Taunton Rowing Club did not exist in 2011 when Ian Payne started teaching learn to row courses in Taunton – the idea being we would learn in Taunton and progress to rowing up at Wimbleball. 

In 2012, Taunton Rowing Club came into being and I have been a member since it started.  From the beginning I have been Membership Secretary, as well as part of the Fundraising/Social group.

Now I am an affiliate member of Wimbleball RC, where I am also the Membership Secretary. 

I am an off peak member at Exeter RC, where I rowed once a week originally being part of Eleanor Burke’s terrific Friday Recreational Group, which has many senior ladies. Only recently has Taunton attracted senior ladies members. 

I met Ian Payne in 2011 when he was promoting Learn to Row at a function in the local park. He encouraged me to “have a go”.  I have to say I had no idea what I was signing up for, but envisaged I’d be in some sort of rowing boat similar to the ones on the sea. I think I was Ian’s first Learn to Row candidate and certainly the most difficult to teach.  

Ian was a wonderful teacher with endless patience and he had the ability to make one feel confident. He spent literally months teaching me to row throughout winter in snow and rain. I started in a Virus on “a piece of string”, as my husband used to say, and eventually was persuaded to move into a Tracer.  A big step.  Moving into a fine boat I did not find so difficult. I can only say Ian Payne was a genius – I have never been sporty or done any real serious exercise but he gave me the rowing bug.

I have competed since May 2012  in regattas and heads having over 80 starts with a very very low win ratio, but I’ve had a lot of fun. I enjoy a single the most, but have also raced in a mixed masters coxed quad, ladies masters quad, mixed masters double and ladies double. 

I have competed at: World Masters in Bled in 2017, Seville International Masters in 2018 and 2019, Henley Masters in 2019. I aim to keep on rowing for as long as I can.

-CJ White

Age group: Under 30

Club: Fairlop RC & Globe RC

-What drew you to take a Learn to Row course?: Rowing was the first sport that I was truly good at. In school I was a bit of a computer nerd and didn’t do any sport. I was very overweight and inactive. During a PE lesson I sat on a rowing machine (only machine left in the gym) and beat the school record for a year 9. After that I competed at a local indoor competition and came fourth out of 13. I fell in love with the sport and was offered a place on a Learn to Row course by my local borough. I competed in the London Youth Games for them. 

-What has your experience been?: Rowing completely changed my life. Ever since then I have taken care of my body and nutrition and learned how to better myself as a competitor. I started behaving in school which I never did, so that I could make sure I could attend training rather than being stuck in detention. I got involved in more sports and paid attention to how to help myself and others both physically and mentally. 

-Where has your rowing journey led you?: Rowing has led me to change my body and nutrition perspective. I spent 3-4 years as a competitor and loved it. I was hoping to join the GB squad, but unfortunately I got injured. After that I started coaching and have now become head coach of Fairlop Rowing Club and assistant head coach of Globe Rowing Club. I have started my own personal training company and help more people become active and better their mindset. I am also studying psychology part time, focusing on sports psychology to help better my athletes. 

-Bryan Brown

Age: Over 60

Club: Fulham Reach BC, on the Thames by Hammersmith Bridge

-When did you take your Learn to Row and where has it led you?: My Learn to Row course was two years ago since I’ve conquered single sculling and I enjoyed two club UK training camps. I’m aiming to compete next year in various heads and regattas in my age category with the main goal being the 2022 GB Masters. 

However, I’m still learning the nuances of effective stroke style as well as trying to touch my toes!!! The wonderful Club atmosphere at FRBC is outstanding and provides a tremendous extra dimension to the fun, rewards and challenges Learn to Row has brought. If you have never rowed, or stopped rowing for any reason, I can wholeheartedly recommend you join a local club. You won’t regret it.


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