London Youth Rowing

LYR was founded by Jim Downing in 2004 in the hope that young people across London would have access to an otherwise traditionally niche sport and in turn help the rowing community become a more diverse, more inclusive environment. LYR has a mission to encourage disadvantaged young people to be active, and improve their physical, social and mental wellbeing. LYR Coaches and Mentors help develop crucial life skills, which are necessary for success in the classroom and the workplace Together this enables young people to participate in the unique sport - indoor and on-water rowing - across London, regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability or ability.

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London Youth Rowing in Leeds

The Boat Race Company and Gemini were delighted to support the scaling up of the Active Row Leeds programme, the first main expansion outside London for London Youth Rowing.  This will allow the programme to be offered to schools in Wakefield and Bradford, supported by the LYR coach based in Leeds.

Originally named, ‘Row East London’, this organisation founded by Jim Downing went on to launch the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships in 2007. Today, LYR employs 10 full-time coaches, multiple part-time coaches and office staff to accommodate working with around 10,000 young people in schools, youth clubs and rowing clubs across London each year.

Now the programme is moving out of London to Leeds and The Gemini Boat Race Bursary will enable the energetic and professional LYR coaching team to deliver rowing to more young people.  Essential training for teachers will ensure the programme can be delivered sustainably.

Tim Senior, Chair of The Boat Race Company said:  “One of our strategic goals is to help shape a better shared future, using the history and heritage of the Boat Race to support a more inclusive and representative future in rowing.  Supporting beneficiaries such as LYR  will help a broader group of young people gain vital sporting experiences and learn new skills to transfer into everyday life.”

The Gemini Boat Race Bursary award aims to purchase sufficient rowing machines to enrol an additional 10 Target schools,  engaging with a minimum of 25 young people per year (250 participants minimum). The programme will be offered to a diverse audience including those with special educational needs or a disability.

Matt Rostron, CEO, London Youth Rowing said: “After an incredible announcement that LYR will be branching outside of London for the first time, to Leeds, and now to be following up with this news is not only very exciting but a sign of the positive commitment to purpose-led social impact through sport, from organisations such as Gemini and The Boat Race.   This very generous funding will enable us to expand on our Active Row Leeds programme which will now not only deliver coaching and investment but can purchase equipment to make rowing accessible for so many young people.  Whilst this specific funding will be used to purchase equipment such as rowing machines and  to hire a part-time coach, we will also be able to introduce these young people to potential on-water venues and activities and work with them to further their development and access to sport, and the benefits.”

The scaled-up programme will increase impact of the Active Row Leeds programme by engaging more schools and young people and proving the experience for participants by being part of a bigger project leading to bigger and even more fun within the local competition events.


Find out more about London Youth Rowing HERE