Rob Roy Boat Club Covid Fundraiser

by Jo Burch in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom


raised in 46 days

+ est. £1836.25 Gift Aid



To raise £10K to replace covid-cancelled events revenue urgently needed to keep the Rob Roy Boat Club junior rowing squad afloat

by Jo Burch in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Any surplus sums raised by this appeal will go towards fitting out a portacabin for warm, dry changing space for crews boating at our base near Ely.

Who are we?

Rob Roy Boat Club, founded in 1880, is one of Cambridge city’s oldest and most successful volunteer-run town rowing clubs. Our focus is on creating opportunities for active involvement in rowing, particularly in sculling. 

Our junior squad enables young people, who have never sat in a boat before, to develop their rowing ability along with personal development skills such as team work, leadership, communication and confidence. Our team of coaches provide high quality training and support to encourage all young people to realise their potential. Since the 1970s there has been an almost unbroken chain of former Rob Roy BC Juniors in the GB National squad.

Known locally as ‘Robs’ we cater for everybody – from complete beginners to internationals, and from juniors to veterans. A significant part of our club's activities is our junior outreach work with local schools to bring opportunities for young people, who may not be regularly active, to access equipment, facilities and coaching at our club. This is achieved through our scholarship and 'Try Rowing' programmes. We also provide opportunities for young people to develop as coaches, learning communication skills and building self-confidence. Sadly, all this has all been cancelled by Covid 19 this year.

What have we lost this year, due to Covid-19?


Our squad successes

This time last year, we were looking forward to another fabulous year of training and racing success for our 60-strong junior squad, with at least 8 of our top junior scullers aiming for GB junior trials, and several crews aged 14 - 18 heading for national championship medals, as well as regional representation, and success at head races and regattas around the region. We were also looking forward to seeing our development squad race their first races, experiencing all the adrenalin, exhaustion, and exhilaration which go with it, and to welcoming a new cohort of 13 year-old beginners into the squad.



Our junior squad has lost those chances.

Our Community programmes and events

We have also lost the chance to run all our outreach programmes, which would have introduced a new cohort of young people to rowing.

We don’t have premises of our own so we can’t host other organisations’ events but our outreach programmes connect with and support other local community organisations:

Have a Go on an Ergo’ - we support Milton Country Park’s family fun day by providing a rowing machine competition for all attendees. About 150 people had a go last year. 

1606231627_milton_country_park_outreach_ergos_tiny_tot.jpeg Cancelled 2020

Cambridge Learn to Row Bootcamps - these Easter and summer holiday courses use our boats and coaches to give taster weeks for adults and children interested in learning to row. Again, usually about 150 people take part, most of whom go on to join rowing clubs in Cambridge. A vital revenue resource for us. Cancelled 2020

Try Rowing - our schools outreach programme provides an introduction to rowing for Year 7 and 8 pupils at two local state schools, reaching nearly 500 young people who would never otherwise have the chance to try the sport - often self-confessed ‘couch potatoes’ who think they are no good at the usual school team sports find that rowing becomes ‘their’ sport. Cancelled 2020. 



Cambridge Small Boats Head - an event we organise each autumn on the Cam for regional scullers to race over 2600m. The event usually attracts upwards of 250 competitors and is one of the first races of the season. It is one of our major revenue sources. Cancelled 2020

Cambridge Autumn Head - like the Small Boats Head, this event usually takes place every October allowing regional crews to test themselves ahead of major national head race events. Our Autumn Head usually attracts 700+ competitors from clubs and universities. Again, one of our major revenue sources. Cancelled 2020

Frostbite Regatta - our annual hilarious and chaotic internal family fundraising event in which the parents of our juniors get the chance to experience what their children spend so much of their time doing. This takes place just after Christmas when the river is at its emptiest - likely to be cancelled this year. 



We hope that 2021 will see a return to racing and a return to all the fun of watching juniors fall in love with the sport, whether or not winning medals is their goal.

How Covid 19 has affected our finances

Our lost revenue 

What 2021 can’t give us is the vital revenue we would have made in 2020 through the cancelled events we would normally have staged to cover our unavoidable running costs: boat rack rents, insurance, registrations, repairs and maintenance, allowing us to keep our junior squad subscriptions as affordable as possible we can so we can be as inclusive as possible. 

  • £5500 - Cancelled Head Races - 3rd and 17th October 2020 
  • £3000 - Cancelled school holiday Learn to Row courses 

Our additional Covid 19-related costs

When we returned to training between the lockdowns, we had to coach our junior squad in smaller groups to stay covid-safe. Some of our coaches volunteered extra coaching time for free but others, particularly our younger coaches, could not afford to.

£1500 - Extra coaching costs in September and October 



We encourage a spirit of inclusivity in the junior squad, valuing everyone and anyone who is prepared to try their hardest. We try to keep costs at a minimum and offer scholarships and bursaries so that no-one need be excluded for financial reasons. The combination of a growth in numbers and in racing success of our junior squad over the last few years reflects the effectiveness of our approach. 


Below are some of the comments we have received from juniors, their parents, their schools, and the City Council, giving an insight into the impact the Rob Roy BC Junior Squad has in our local community

 “When you talked to me saying you see potential in me, I was really inspired and it felt amazing that someone believes in me!” TRY ROWING PARTICIPANT

"After their experience at Try Rowing, students who had previously not engaged positively with organised school sport, approached the Head of Sport at the school and set up an after-school girls-only fitness session. A total of 15 girls attended 2 sessions per week throughout the summer term." PE TEACHER

"Parents’ evenings are dominated by conversations with parents enthusiastic about Try Rowing and its impact on their children!" PE TEACHER

"May I use this opportunity to thank you and your team at Rob Roy for all you do for our children: for making them fit, healthy and happy!" PARENT

"My daughter LOVED being back on the water today. Thank you so much. She came back saying how much she'd enjoyed sculling (single) and that she had had some good feedback from Will and was rather chuffed. Thank you. It all helps with her confidence, which has been up and down during lockdown." PARENT

"As a diverse comprehensive school (20% pupil premium students; 20% SEN; 40 languages spoken and with part of our catchment from the most deprived ward in Cambridge) we are aware that for some of our students rowing would not previously have been a sport they would have considered or been able to access.

However, through this project [Try Rowing], we have seen a diverse group of students become active participants and this has increased their confidence, self-esteem and had a tangential impact upon their academic study." HEAD TEACHER

"There is a strong history and passion for Rowing within Cambridge City.  However, attracting young people from hard to reach communities into the sport is particularly challenging.  Traditionally seen as a sport for the “upper classes”, it is incredibly encouraging to hear that Rob Roy are successfully engaging pupils who attend schools in deprived areas of the City, into their current Try Rowing! Project." CITY COUNCIL SPORTS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

Let's make 'Rob Roy Boat Club Covid Fundraiser' happen

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