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Lakeland RC and KE Travel join forces to revive historic rowing event

David Thomas and Ashley Toft at Crow Park on the shores of Derwentwater

Lakeland Rowing Club has secured a sponsorship deal that will enable it to stage a historic rowing competition on Derwentwater next week, involving several hundred oarsmen and women from across the UK.

Keswick-based KE Adventure Travel will be the headline backer of the first Derwentwater Head to be contested in 150 years and will also be supporting it for the following two years.

The event on Saturday 7 March has attracted entries from more than 500 adult and junior rowers, who will boat from Keswick foreshore and race over a 3km course in crews of four or eight.

Event coordinator David Thomas said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have the support of such a high-profile local company as KE Adventure Travel, who work with clients all over the world and share Lakeland Rowing Club’s commitment to promoting physical and mental well-being in fabulous natural surroundings.

“Staging an event like the Derwentwater Head is a huge undertaking for a small and relatively new club such as Lakeland, and having KE’s financial backing will make all the difference.”

Ashley Toft, chief executive officer of KE Adventure Travel, said: “At KE, we’re a small, friendly bunch who live and breathe the outdoors, love the Lake District and try to spread a Cumbrian welcome around the world on our active holidays.

“Lakeland Rowing Club’s determination to take on the challenge of the Derwentwater Head and their commitment to the local community felt true to KE’s own quest to pioneer unique new adventures and to help everyone do that in an enriching and sustainable way. We’re very happy to support the Derwentwater Head’s return.”

It is believed the last event of this scale to be staged on the lake took place in 1870, when crews from as far away as London arrived by train in Keswick and carried their boats through the town to the foreshore.

Mr Thomas said: “The day promises to be a spectacular experience not only for the competitors, who will be rowing on one of the UK’s most stunning stretches of water, but also for spectators, who we hope will flock to the lakeside to watch.

“Having several hundred extra people staying, eating and drinking around the town for the weekend will also benefit local businesses.”

Organising the event has taken the 13-year-old club, which is based in a self-built compound on Keswick Isthmus, the best part of two years.

Mr Thomas added: “Without the generosity of KE Adventure Travel and other our sponsors – Cumberland Building Society, Saint & Co accountants, Honister Slate Mine, Inovica.com, Carvetti Coffee Roasters and Caterite – it simply wouldn’t have been possible.

“Staging the head really is a community effort, as we’ve also had invaluable assistance from our landlord the National Trust, and from our friends at Keswick Launch Company, Keswick Lions, Derwent Water Marina, the town council, Keswick Rugby Club, Allerdale Borough Council and the Theatre by the Lake.”

The time-trial style racing will take place across two divisions, scheduled for 9.45am and 12.45pm, with crews setting off a few seconds apart on a shoreline course along either the east or west side of the lake, depending on wind conditions on the day.

They will be competing for unique women’s, men’s, juniors’, seniors’ and masters’ trophies handmade by Honister Slate Mine.

Beginners, or returning rowers, who would like to know more about opportunities at Lakeland RC can visit www.lakelandrowingclub.com or find the club on Facebook – just search for the Lakeland Rowing Club page.

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