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The Quest for Satellite Clubs and Sportivate Grants 

boat launching Manor Park Sailing Club reaches out to the community

Manor Park Sailing Club in Staffordshire is delivering training through community outreach projects to broaden the appeal of the sport to all ages.  

A Sport England grant of nearly £10,000 has funded two RS Quests to help adults discover sailing or hone their racing skills, while Sportivate grants are supporting training for young people and families from two community organisations.  

The club near Lichfield is now fully engaged in providing courses and activities that were just a dream and a form-filling exercise over the dark winter nights. It is all helping to generate interest in sailing and widen the membership base of the club to keep it vibrant for the future.  

The super-stable Quests have proved popular with older sailors thanks to their simple rigging and easy handling. Commodore David Court says: “The Quests are just the ticket to help us get more mature people in to sailing. “We do some very local marketing, such as attending the local village fete, and this leads to a steady stream of new members, perhaps who are looking for a hobby after they have stopped working or children have left home. These members also bring great life skills to the club and help with all those jobs that need doing to keep the fabric of the club ship-shape.”

The Quests are also being used by the club’s young Assistant Instructors to improve their racing skills, and there are plans to run some novice race training on Sunday mornings to encourage members who would like to become regular racers.  

Burton Venture Trust Satellite Club

Another initiative this season is the creation of a “satellite club” with Burton Venture Trust - a local charity that offers sporting opportunities to children from the Burton urban area - following a successful Sportivate-funded partnership in 2015 between the two organisations which saw BVT youngsters completing an eight-week RYA learn-to-sail course.  

Sport England’s Sportivate programme gives young people access to free or subsidised coaching in a range of sports, and the partnership between BVT and Manor Park SC was awarded a second Sportivate grant this year of £1,500. Three sets of up to eight students are participating in a Level 1 course over eight Saturday afternoons, and the first batch of students are two families of four.

BVT Leader Graham Marshment says: “After last year’s Sportivate programme a number of parents said they would like to join in the fun as they could see sailing as a great all-ages family sport. We have arranged the course to suit this demand while also allowing the students from last year to take their skills to the next level. It’s great that Manor Park have such an enthusiastic training team and a variety of boats to suit all skill levels.’   

Guides Sportivate Sessions

Manor Park SC also received a £500 Sportivate grant to engage local Guide groups. The Guides previously canoed regularly at the club but didn’t do much sailing and this latest programme is now bridging that gap.  

Wednesday night Manor Park SC junior sessions have been boosted by 12 Guides from the Lichfield area taking part in an eight-week training course partially funded by the Sportivate grant.

Keith Hill, a senior instructor at the club, said: “We have really enjoyed getting the Guides out on the water and they seem to have had a lot of fun whilst picking up the basics. We expect some of them will join the club and towards the end of their course we will get their mums and dads out on the water. We will apply for funding to set up a satellite club for them in 2017.”  

Rewards For All  

Manor Park SC is reaping the rewards of reaching out to the community with its passion for making sailing accessible to all age groups. Older people have been encouraged to take to the water while its work with Burton Venture Trust and the Guides is leading not only young people into sailing but also their parents, who realise it can be a family sport.   As training principal Gary Robertson explains: “For those taking part I think sailing emphasises the personal development skills that young and old can get from not only taking part in a physical activity but from being part of a mini-community. And it benefits the club. A lot of clubs go down the route of focussing on racing and while we definitely want a healthy racing fleet we also want to make sailing more accessible for all of our community, giving us a sustainable membership for the future.”      

Find out more about Manor Park SC here.

These projects have enabled Manor Park to engage the local community and to grow their membership. At the same time these projects have enabled them to increase the revenue to the club and to secure the funding for additional training boats. Get in touch with Regional Development Officer Gareth Brookes or your Sailing Development Officer via the RYA Midlands contacts page if you would like to discuss these ideas further.  

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