Gateshead Community Rowing Club was established in 2013 by and since then the club has been developing into a successful and important part of the community.
Not only do they now boast over 40 members and four qualified coaches, they are unique in the region as not only do they row competitively in the fine racing boats, that people usually associate rowing with, they do coastal rowing, build boats and cater for disabled rowers.
Operating out of Derwenthaugh Marina, the club is now well known for its specialist work with Special Educational Needs schools, military veterans and providing rowing opportunities for other groups who might not otherwise be able to participate.
Carol Downworth said: "A number of SEN schools come to us as they know we can provide both indoor rowing and we can also take their pupils out on the river. We also have a specially adapted boat that caters for wheelchair users, which is great, particularly for our work with the Road to Recovery charity which works with injured veterans.
"We have nearly finished building a lightweight coastal boat with military veterans and guys from Mental Health Matters and the Headway charity, and we are already planning another boat building project soon. The boats we build are safe and stable and fun to row."
The club is committed to continue its progress and its next step is to open a new club building with changing rooms, kitchen and a separate boat house.
Carol added: "The new buildings will be on site by February, which will be great for the club. We have received a number of grants to support this, including one from Tyne & Wear Sport, but we have a lot more applications to work on in order to keep making progress.
"We are steadily building a community around rowing. It's not just about sport and fitness. Taking part also builds people's confidence and in many cases improves their quality of life. We like to make each person's goals achievable so that they have both mental and physical challenges and therefore want to keep coming back."
And Carol knows first-hand just how important the club can be to people's lives having decided with her husband, Mick, to set up the club after recovering from a serious accident which left her registered blind.
Carol said: "I had to give up work after my accident and I see the club as my second chance. I enjoy the social side as well as the competitiveness of the sport. Running the club has given me a focus. It is a lot of hard work, but it has been very rewarding."
Tyne and Wear Sport have been an indispensable partner in our growth and development and have helped with education, training, grants, coach mentoring and networking.
More information about the club can be found on their website: www.gatesheadrowing.com