Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, operated by Serco on behalf of Sport England, last week welcomed HRH The Princess Royal as the Centre hosted the first ever Rivertime Accessible Regatta in the Thames Valley, bringing together over 300 young people with a wide range of disabilities and special needs for a unique day of sporting events.
HRH The Princess Royal attended to officially launch the Regatta, which was organised by the Rivertime Boat Trust together with the charity Give Them a Sporting Chance, of which Her Royal Highness is Guardian.
The event saw the stretch of the River Thames at Bisham Abbey brought to life though a full programme of water sports, including bell boating, accessible sailing and powerboating, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
As well as water-based activities, young people also had the opportunity to try various land-based activities using the National Sports Centre’s world-class facilities, including a range of land based accessible sports such as wheelchair basketball and tennis, boccia, cycling, new age kurling, cheerleading, archery, land sailing and disability football.
HRH The Princess Royal was escorted by Mr James Puxley, the Lord Lieutenant for Berkshire, and started the first race, as well as meeting young people taking part in the event.
Drawn from over 20 local schools, participants also had the chance to rub shoulders with some inspiring Paralympians and Olympians who attended the Regatta to show their support for accessible sport, including:
Jeannette Chippington MBE Paralympic Gold Medal para-canoeist at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro
Anne Dickins MBE (nee Usher) – a para-canoeist who won a Gold Medal at the 2016 Paralympics
Naomi Riches MBE – Bronze Medal at the 2008 Paralympics and a Gold Medal at the 2012 Paralympics in the mixed coxed four
Steve Williams OBE – double Gold Medal Olympic Rowing champion in the Coxless Four in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008
Dame Katherine Grainger DBE – Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian, including a Gold Medal at London 2012 in the Double Sculls
Steve Nelson, Partnership Director for Serco, said:
“We were incredibly proud to host this inspiring event and to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to our superb facilities. Sport should be something that everyone is able to enjoy, so it’s brilliant that we were able to give so many children with disabilities and special needs the chance to try such a huge range of activities. We have long been supporters of the Rivertime Boat Trust and we look forward to working with the Trust and Give Them A Sporting Chance to help the Regatta go from strength to strength in the future.”
Simon Davis, Rivertime Boat Trust Co-founder and Chairman said:
“We are delighted by the enthusiasm we have received and it is this which will drive us forward to create The Rivertime Accessible Regatta as an annual event, inspiring other organisations and charities to organise similar events and encouraging children and young people with disabilities to develop a long-term involvement with accessible sports. We’d like to thank Serco and the team at Bisham Abbey for their support and for being such fantastic hosts for the event.”
Anne Wadsworth, Give Them a Sporting Chance Trustee, said:
“Everyone’s life can be enriched and their horizons expanded by a sporting chance. I am delighted that so many special young people will were able to share such a wonder day of sporting chances at Bisham Abbey. This is exactly what Give Them a Sporting Chance is all about. It has been wonderful to work with the Rivertime Boat Trust and Serco to put on this event together.”