Bader Grants helped Para Rowing at Marlow

Bader Grants Helped Para Rowing at Marlow

We had personal evidence of how Bader Grants helped Para Rowing at Marlow Rowing Club on Sunday 19th June.

We had received an application for a Bader Grant in January this year from Sally Hopewell, who had broken her back in her 20’s in a climbing accident. She had recently tried rowing at Marlow Rowing Club and discovered she has a real aptitude for it, breaking the record for Concept2 (indoor rowing) half marathon in 2018 and marathon in 2020 – the only UK rower to have completed the challenge.

Sally needed a special boat to use on the water and had identified  a suitable 2nd hand skull in excellent condition. We were delighted to be able to support Sally with a grant and she is now able to pursue this new sport and see how far her skill will take her.

We were delighted that Sally agreed to call her boat “Lady B“, Joan Bader’s nickname, in her memory.

We subsequently received a separate Grant Application from Para Rowing at Marlow who were very much in need of another, similar, boat to enable other para rowers to practice. It turned out that they had been advised to approach us by Mari Akhurst, our Para Dressage rider and Ambassador who took up rowing initially to improve her core strength to help her riding, and then discovered that she is extremely good at it!

We helped Marlow to buy another suitable boat, now very appropriately named “Spitfire” in honour of Sir Douglas. “Spitfire” already had an illustrious history having competed in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

What is so special about this chain of events is the knock on benefits of the Bader Grants: Sally now has “Lady B” in which to take her impressive skills further; Mari has been recognised as a the No 1 Woman Para Rower in her class and is aspiring to take part in her first international event this summer in “Spitfire“, and, having retired from the sport the para rower who partnered “Spitfire” in Tokyo has been able to use the money he received for the boat to further his wheelchair competition ambitions. The Bader Grants helped Para Rowing at Marlow directly too because both boats can be used by other para rowers at the club.

Keith Delderfield, his wife Jess and I had all been invited to Marlow Rowing Club on Sunday 19th June to meet Sally and see the boats. It was a lovely surprise to hear that Marlow is also Mari’s Club and that she would be there to meet us as well. We had a wonderful afternoon and I can’t praise Marlow Rowing Club enough. It has a fantastic friendly, warm, inclusive atmosphere and the support for the para rowers is superb. After a very laid back and slightly messy “naming ceremony” involving champagne(!), we had tea in the lovely clubhouse  with its gorgeous view over the river.

It was a pleasure to meet Sally and especially to realise how well she would have got on with the real “Lady B” who would have been so honoured to have Sally’s boat named after her and to accompany Sally in spirit on future adventures. It was also a treat to meet Mari, who we’ve  known since 2017 when she applied for her own Bader Grant to help with core strength and fitness training. I had communicated with her regularly since then but we’d never met!

Marlow rowing Club is a very special place where they actively encourage para rowers and would love to have more people take part. They are incredibly encouraging, supportive and enthusiastic, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly for anyone who has been tempted to give this very liberating sport a go but may have been nervous about joining a club or taking the first steps.

Without sounding too sentimental, I would like to emphasise what a wonderful squad we have at Marlow.  I am biased, of course; but what is really heartwarming is that everyone supports each other, in a very genuine and caring way. David Haggas – Adaptive/Para Rowing Coach at Marlow Rowing Club

It’s unusual and was heartwarming to see at first hand how the Bader Grant Scheme can make a difference. We are delighted that Bader Grants helped Para Rowing at Marlow and hope that the association between the DBF and Marlow Rowing Club will be a long and beneficial one. We will be updating regularly on news and events and there will be some exciting developments to come so please keep watching this space…!

Bader Grants helped para rowing at Marlow
David Haggas, Adaptive/Para Rowing Coach, addressing some of those present! (Jess and Keith Delderfield 1st and 2nd left)


Bader GRants helped para rowing at Marlow
David introduces “Lady B”


Bader Grants helped para rowing at Marlow
Sally Hopewell with “Lady B”


Sally and Wendy McCleave christen “Lady B” in a manner she would have approved of!


Mari Durward Akhurst, Para Dressage Rider and Rower


Wendy and Mari christen “Spitfire”

Our thanks to David Haggas for supplying the lovely photographs which perfectly capture the spirit of a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon!

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