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Summer may be behind us but there was plenty of light and warmth at Castle Semple Visitor Centre on Tuesday 24th November as Guy Clark, Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, splendid in full dress uniform, presented the Queens Award to Castle Semple Rowing Club. The beautiful crystal award and framed certificate were accepted by club coaches Lesley Afuakwah and Mel Brander in front of an audience of fifty which included the Deputy Provost John Caldwell, Deputy Lord-Lieutenants Alan Sorenson, David Girdwood, Peter McCarthy and the Rev Alan Birss, Cllr Christopher Gilmour Chairman of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Park staff, local councillors and other invited guests.

Queens Award Presentation

The Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Peter McCarthy and Club Coaches Mel Brander and Lesley Afuakwah

The citation for the Award was read out by Deputy Lord-Lieutenant Colonel Peter McCarthy. He said that the Scottish Charity Castle Semple Rowing Club (CSRC) received the award as it provides a much-needed local sports facility that makes a conspicuous contribution to the health and wellbeing of individuals who come largely from communities in the West of Scotland. Active since 1971, the club provides an opportunity to enjoy rowing for the whole community and goes out of its way to be both affordable and accessible. It has also achieved sporting success over the years at regional, national and international levels.

CSRC prides itself on being a community and family focused club. The volunteers work hard to provide an opportunity for anyone, young or old, able bodied or with disabilities to participate in the sport of rowing. They believe that rowing is not only a fun and physically demanding activity, but that joining a club like theirs should provide members with an opportunity to build lasting social networks and develop skills they would not otherwise have.

Despite its broad focus the club has achieved a high level of success over the years in regional, national and international rowing events: these include a Silver for Scotland in the 1986 Commonwealth Games; Gold for GB in the 2009 World Junior Championships, 3 Golds in the 2010 Commonwealth Rowing Championships, Gold in 2014 in the annual GB/France match. Some of the clubs young performers go on to achieve great things with other clubs but CSRC still sees them as part of the family and is immensely proud of them. Most recently club member Gavin Horsburgh, rowing for Glasgow Schools, was part of the historic junior men’s quad who took gold at the World Junior Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year.

The annual regatta held at Castle Semple Regional Park is a great example of the club’s philosophy. This huge event, the largest single day regatta in Scotland with over 130 races running over 10 hours, is entirely run by club volunteers. The park is full of boats, trailers , athletes and spectators all determined to have a great time. “It’s the friendliest regatta in the calendar” said one race goer from the North of Scotland. While the next generation of GB hopefuls test their skills against challenging water conditions, club members of all ages keep the event running smoothly. It is heart-warming to see former junior members, now in their early twenties, and perhaps no longer competing, still participating fully as coaches, pontoon marshals, umpires and launch drivers, a real example of sustainability in club sport.

The club’s approach is seen as an example of good practice by Scottish Rowing and received their Grow2Row certificate in its new kitemark Accreditation scheme. Earlier this month CSRC were delighted to receive the first ever Scottish Rowing Club of the Year Award.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year range from Ablaze, a charity helping to raise academic achievement amongst disadvantaged young people in Bristol to a volunteer rescue boat service on Loch Lomond. As the Lord-Lieutenant proudly pointed out 5 of the 187 Queen’s Awards presented across the whole of the UK were to voluntary groups from Renfrewshire.

The club President Graeme Fletcher closed the formal part of the evening by warmly thanking the Lord-Lieutenant and guests and expressing the belief that the recognition would encourage the next generation of volunteers in addition to recognizing the efforts of those current and past. The evening ended with a fantastic buffet, full of volunteer best home-baking. We would like to thank Clyde Muirsheil for hosting the event. 

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