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Castle Semple first Rowing Club in Scotland to be recognised with Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Posted: June 2, 2015

Castle Semple Rowing club based in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire has won a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. It is a matter of pride for the members that it is the first rowing club in Scotland to achieve this prestigious award. The club is a registered charity run entirely by volunteers and they are all delighted at the recognition that this MBE equivalent award represents.

QAVS logo MBE StrapsmallScottish Charity Castle Semple Rowing Club (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 club members have achieved high levels 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 and one Gold and two Bronzes in the 2014 Commonwealth Rowing Championships with a 16 year old member achieving Gold in for GB in the annual GB/France match. Many of the clubs young performers go on to join other clubs but CSRC still sees them as part of the family and is immensely proud of them.

The annual regatta held at Castle Semple Regional Park this weekend was a great example of the club’s philosophy. This huge event, the largest single day regatta in Scotland - over 130 races running over 10 hours, is entirely run by club volunteers. The park was buzzing. “It’s the friendliest regatta in the calendar” said one race goer from the North of Scotland. While the next generation of GB hopefuls were testing their skills against challenging water conditions, club members of all ages were keeping the event running smoothly. Club coach and committee member Caroline Parker said “it is particularly heart-warming to see former junior members, now in their early twenties and perhaps no longer racing 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 national sports governing body Scottish Rowing who recently awarded it their new kitemark Grow2Row accreditation certificate.

Caroline Parker and Lesley Afuakwah, CSRC’s Head Junior Coach will attend a garden party at Holyrood on 1st July where they will meet the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.

Castle Semple Rowing Club is one of 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards handed out to groups have increased by over 60% from 2014, due to an increase in high quality applications, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

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.

Castle Semple Rowing Club will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire later this summer. Ivar Campbell, the club’s President said “we are delighted that the fantastic work of our volunteers has been recognised in this way and would like to take the opportunity to encourage anyone in the local area who has an interest in volunteering and would like to get involved in the club to get in touch via our website”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said:
“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the best of democracy in action.”
Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:

“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements.The hard work and commitment that goes into the work of these organisations is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a bigger, stronger society.”