City of Bristol Rowing Club

Christina de la Mare is pictured, smiling.
Today’s guest blog is from Christina de la Mare, junior bursary officer at City of Bristol Rowing Club.

City of Bristol Rowing Club (CoBRC), situated on Bristol Harbour, is working hard to become more accessible to the Bristol community. With a strong focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), it has started a junior bursary. This makes club membership more affordable to children in the Bristol area. However, the club faces many challenges in expanding its DEI programmes. On August 18, Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, came to visit us, and we were delighted to welcome him. Not only did he learn a lot more about the club, he tried out in a single, too!                                                   

CoBRC and Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured, smiling, rowing on Bristol Harbour.

CoBRC may seem like an elitist club that is off limits to most. However, this is far from the truth. Not only was it started by dockers in 1952, it is entirely volunteer run, and attracts people from age 13 upwards from different backgrounds and incomes. The club has a longstanding commitment to DEI, and has run outreach programs for several years with schools in Bristol. These have given more children the opportunity to row.

More recently, CoBRC has started a junior bursary program for children from lower-income backgrounds. It covers all the costs of rowing membership in the juniors section, as well as competitive events. Our goal is not necessarily to find a future Olympian – though that could, of course, happen! Rather, it aims to provide a solid framework that supports a child’s progress, academically, physically, and mentally. One of the scheme’s first recipients, aged 14, writes about their experience of the bursary here:

“First of all CoBRC has given me an amazing opportunity. It is a great community for everyone from different backgrounds and interests, where strangers become friends, inside and outside of the club. For me personally, I have met a lot of people and have continued the friendships outside of the club. This rowing club has given me an opportunity to be active and engaged in a sport with a lot of dedication. This helps in a lot of different ways: in school and in everyday scenarios. It improves concentration and team working skills, which help in group and single activities.

Young people are pictured rowing in Bristol Harbour, they are taking part in the City of Bristol Rowing club's Learn to Row course.
Young people are pictured putting rowing boats in the Bristol Harbour. They are attending the City of Bristol Rowing Club's Learn to Row course.

Plans for the future

The bursary and outreach programs are just the beginning of CoBRC’s plans to offer more to the Bristol community. Lying in the heart of the city, it hopes to attract more people from different backgrounds and with different needs. With plans to build a new boathouse, the club intends one day to offer adaptive rowing, making it even more accessible.


The City of Bristol Rowing club's boathouse is pictured, with a mixture of rowing boats in the foreground.

No plans come without problems, not least the ever-present challenges of fundraising for DEI, a much-needed new boathouse and equipment. We really appreciated Marvin’s interest in our ethos, hopes and plans, and the help we need to make them happen. We all felt he really understood that the club has a big heart, and has the potential to reach many more people in Bristol.

Thank you Marvin

As a club, we echo the closing words of our bursary recipient:

I would like to thank the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, once again for supporting the club and the possibility of helping us with the obstacles that we face.

And, if you ever fancy another go in a single, you’re always welcome!

Mayor Marvin Rees (left) is pictured, smiling, alongside Caitlin (right), a City of Bristol Rowing instructor.