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University Centre rowers to raise funds to boost inclusivity

University Centre Shrewsbury’s rowers are set to make waves at a fundraising event next week.

The student rowers are aiming to help the town’s Pengwern Boat Club raise funds to make rowing more accessible. They hope to raise £1,000 to renovate the disabled toilets and pontoon and they have challenged members of the club, including non-students and Shrewsbury Sixth Form students, to row the length of the River Severn by taking town-hour stints on the club’s ergometer machines (or ‘ergs’).

The event will take place on Wednesday 18th January at Pengwern Boat Club opposite the Quarry Park, with the 354-km endurance test starting at noon and carrying on throughout the day. The public are encouraged to come down and cheer on the rowers, with a suggested donation of £3 per person; there will also be a paid bar. What’s more, Shrewsbury’s branch of Domino’s will be supplying free pizza to all who come to lend their moral support.

Ali Thomas from Pengwern Boat Club said: “We were absolutely bowled over when the UCS students who row with us said they wanted to run a fundraiser to raise money to improve access for our adaptive rowers. Adaptive rowing is a special category for people with physical disabilities – our 19th-century boat club wasn’t built with wheelchairs in mind, but there’s a lot we can do to improve the facilities for people with disabilities.

“The funds the students and Pengwern Boat Club members raise will hopefully kick-start a whole load of improvements. We’re really grateful for their enthusiasm. Most of the young people taking part have never spent more than 20 minutes on a rowing machine… so doing more than two hours each will really test them. But I’m sure they’ll come up trumps!”

Holly-Elizabeth Smith says UCS’s rowers are keen to support the club: “This event came about because we wanted to help Pengwern Boat Club, who kindly took on two UCS students when we first opened in 2015. The idea is to help Pengwern become better prepared to offer adaptive rowing to Shrewsbury and to future UCS students.”

Anytime Fitness in Lower Claremont Bank is also supporting the event.