Let me start from saying Happy New Year to you and your families. I hope you found sometime over the festive period for some rest, relaxation and recuperation. As there was no large Christmas party or AGM, I have not had the chance to speak to you at length about our club and the difficulties that the club has faced over the past 12 months, and still continues to face. So, I will use this opportunity to speak to you now.

It’s been a very turbulent year, and I think we are all ready to see the back of 2020. But it has not been without many positive aspects, the first being that the club, is still here. It is a testament to how you feel about the club, that many of you have continued to pay membership throughout the pandemic, and for those who have suffered economically during the past 12months you have continued to support the club in any which way you can. The spirit of togetherness has really made 2020 for me, the want and desire for the club to continue and this was seen in our recent AGM where we lost so many who have done much for the club. But this year, we saw new people willing to raise their hand and step into roles and positions to support the club and I cannot thank everyone enough. 

Frustratingly, we thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, and we were slow emerging from lockdown and getting back on the water and attracting new members. This has proved a false dawn, this new strain of Covid-19 has set us, and the rowing community back. I think it is safe to say that is it unlikely that we will be back in large crew boats until this strain has been bought under control or a vaccine has been rolled out. With every disappointment there is opportunity, and what the last 12 months has shown is that we will adapt again, and make best of a bad situation. Over the next few days there will be a lot of information coming out about what we will doing, so please keep in the loop on Slack and Whatsapp. We will be rolling out group training sessions with Marcus and Coach Alex, there will be testing whether running/ergs and monitoring of the results. We will be reviving the Strava Club board. As well as a series of lectures around sport conditioning, mental wellness etc. Finally, we will be working with a professional Yoga Teacher on Tuesday and Thursday, to help with your strength and conditioning – all these sessions are open to you and your families. So you can get fit together! We want to build on our club mentality, our competitive nature and our need to improve ready to get back on the water.

Everything that we will be doing over the next few months will be focused on getting you back on the water, mentally and physically ready to row. Rowing is going to be different in 2021, but we want to ensure our athletes are well trained, well coached and ready for whatever races we are able to participate in, even if the races are on the dock and against Lea, Maidstone, Globe or the Otters. We will be bringing back that competitiveness which 2020 has lacked. So I ask of you to stick with us, we are so close to the end and the wait will be worth it. Curlew is a great “little” club, made by our members for our members and what you put in, you will get out, so let’s make 2021 the year we all put in and make the club the best we have had. 

Before I leave you to your New Year’s Day, I want to finally say a couple of thank you. 2020 AGM saw a lot of retirements, and due to the on line nature we were not able to pay any tribute. So I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who have given up their time for Curlew Rowing Club to help the club move forward and especially to the following people who have left the Committee and in some cases the club:

John Stewart, Jessica Phillips, Rebecca Jackson, Tom Weekes, Gemma Baker, Emily Wisher, Giorgio Sdraffa, Stuart Beard, Angus Wilson, Edward Ninham, Katriona Blomberg, Kamile Matu.

Many of these club members served on the Committee for multiple years, they dedicated their free time to help move the club forward, and they deserve our thanks. What 2020 has shown us, is that there is great strength in team work, and I hope to continue this team work into 2021 as “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford. This, I think is a great mantra to have, together, in 2021 we will move this club forward and 2020 will be a minor blip in the long and enduring history that is our club. I wish you all a very Happy New Year.  

Matthew Richardson

Curlew RC

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