Stratford’s adaptive squad receives top recognition

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Rowers and their coaches on the Avon in Stratford. Photo: Mark Williamson S33/2/20/9751

ROWING

STRATFORD BC’s ever-increasing adaptive squad are celebrating after they were named as Club of the Month for October by Parasport.

Parasport is the new way to discover inclusive local opportunities to become more active.

Their ambition is to create the UK’s biggest fun and vibrant community for players, parents and coaches to share their experiences of para sport and find useful hints, tips and information on what’s happening in any specific area.

This includes in depth listings and all the information for para athletes to connect to local inclusive opportunities.

Among those pictured on the banks of the Avon at Stratford Boat Club were Mark Dewdney, head coach of the adaptive squad, Kelly Donald, Dave Rose, Hattie Throssell, Joe Moore, coach, Trevor Tiller, coach, and Dan Godfrey along with Lilly the guide dog. Photo: Mark Williamson S33/2/20/9702

Head adaptive coach Mark Dewdney said: “Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad’s message is clear – if there’s a will, there’s usually a way to get people rowing no matter their circumstances.”

The adaptive section of Stratford BC was started in 2015 with two rowers and now has six or seven different boats serving a squad of more than ten.

The secret of the adaptive section’s success is simple and has developed from a ‘listen first’ mentality and by embracing a people-centred approach to physical and coaching issues.

“What makes the squad work is that we’re always learning from our athletes – we listen,” said Dewdney.

“Necessity means the rowers have often come up with clever ways of overcoming their particular issues.

“We take ideas from every person who comes to us and we find that the athletes come up with something that we have not thought of that will help us improve what we do with others.”

The squad does not select on the basis of how good an athlete is going to be, the criteria is to look at how the squad can make it work for that particular individual.

Stratford’s adaptive rowers have wide-ranging needs, including athletes with spinal cord injuries, hemiplegia, visual impairment and autism, and has a coaching team of four to cope with these challenges.

Those interested in joining the squad either as an athlete or as a volunteer should contact Dewdney via www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact and marking the subject matter as ‘adaptive’.