ALWAYS willing to get in to the festive spirit, Monmouth Rowing Club members were delighted to be able to play Santa Claus after their successful Winter Head of the River Race.
Profits from the event helped them donate £800 to Monmouth Comprehensive School’s Great Britain junior cap Emily Richards to help her make next year’s world junior championships on the Rio Olympic course.
And with space at a premium in their boathouse, they also donated their ‘blue eight’ boat to City of Swansea Rowing Club to help the Tawe outfit develop.
Emily, 17, who boats from the Wye boathouse with her school club – one of just a handful of state schools that row - is already a European junior team gold medallist, and is well on course to make the world juniors team next summer after finishing fifth out of all GB’s junior women rowers at last month’s trials in Boston, Lincs.
And she rounded off the year on home waters by taking the fastest women’s single sculls pennant at the 204-boat Christmas head race before being presented with a cheque by Monmouth RC coach John Jenkins.
He said: “Emily works really hard and is doing everything she can to fulfil her dream of making next year’s world juniors on the Rio Olympic course.
“It’s great that we are able to provide a base for youngsters to row, either in the club or at school, and when someone as talented as Emily comes along, with a GB vest and gold medal already to her name, we’re very proud to be able to help them in some small way.
Monmouth Comprehensive School rowing coach Dan Cowton added: “The support of Monmouth RC is very generous and fantastic, and will go a long way towards her being able to finish the trials process this year.
“The cost of actually going to Rio remains a concern if she is successful. Making her European dream come true in France in 2014 was fantastic for Emily and her family, but the costs were considerable and if she is to make it to the ultimate event for a GB junior cap, money will be a barrier.
“She has contacted many local businesses and organisations, and been very grateful for the supportive audience she has received from the likes of Colour Fence, Evans of Monmouth, Honeywell and Narduzzo to date, and now Monmouth RC.
“Emily is a very determined focused young lady. Her manners, courtesy and consideration of others are a great pleasure to work with and she epitomises the maxim that “busy people
succeed”, organising her schoolwork and training so that she succeeds in both.”
Rather than sell their blue eight, the club also decided to donate it to Swansea, a club which has had to fight hard to establish itself on the Tawe barrage, with only basic facilities.
Presenting the boat to Swansea co-founder Andrew Williams, Mr Jenkins said: “We have a long friendship with City of Swansea since their foundation in 1994, with Andrew having rowed for both our club and Monmouth School in the 1970s and 1980s.
“They’ve always supported our events and have fought really hard to bring rowing to central Swansea, with little financial help, and no boathouse, as such.
“With no more space to house the ‘blue eight’, rather than sell it, we thought it would make a nice gesture to offer it to a deserving club like Swansea in return for all the support they’ve given to our events over the years.”