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Lea Rowing Club opens booking for its ‘I Belong’ rowing diversity programme

Following its successful pilot in 2021, Hackney-based Lea RC launches its ‘I Belong’ programme to encourage more people from the local community to try rowing.

Actively working to help diversify rowing, Lea RC hopes to encourage those who wouldn’t normally consider rowing as a sport open to them to try it out. As a result of its work at club and performance level in this area, the club was shortlisted for Club of the Year at the 2021 British Rowing Awards.

The club, located on a stretch of inner city river that runs past Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, sits at the heart of the ethnically diverse communities of Hackney, Haringey and Waltham Forest.

Community rowing on the River Lea can be traced back 200 years — and today’s modern club continues in that inclusive tradition offering training initiatives, rowing classes and pathways to becoming a member that are accessible and affordable.

With tickets for the ‘I Belong’ pilot programme selling out in minutes last year, Lea RC hopes even more local people will try the sport for the first time this year — and to expand the initiative in years to come, adding to both its recreational and competitive squads, many of whose members have rowed at Henley and at international level.

The programme is being supported by Olympic Rower Kyra Edwards, who said:

“Programmes like I Belong are so important to actively promote and open up rowing up to a more diverse audience. I’m delighted to support the Lea’s goal of rowing for all, as I know just how much the sport has to offer.”

Matt Pooley, Club Captain, Lea RC said: "Our model proves that it is possible to run a performance rowing programme while promoting diversity, inclusion and community.”

Sara Cinamon, on behalf of the Lea RC Diversity Working Party said: “The Lea Rowing Club is on a mission to have greater representation of our local ethnically and culturally diverse communities. We want people to be able to walk past the club and think I can belong here'.

The ‘I Belong’ programme will be held on 11,18 and 25 June, 4.30-6.30pm at the Lea Rowing Club, Spring Hill, London E5 9BL. Tickets go on sale on Saturday 4 June and the programme costs £45pp. Email to receive the link to book.

For more information on I Belong and photo or interview opportunities please contact Sara Cinamon at

[23 May 2022]

Editors Notes:

Competitive rowing on the River Lea started with wager and professional races sponsored by local publicans. The Lea became a centre for working men’s sport when many local companies and religious organisations established clubs based at the Springhill and Lea Bridge boatyards.

Lea RC was founded in 1980 by the members of five rowing clubs then active on the River Lea. Crowland, City Orient, Gladstone Warwick, and Britannia rowing clubs merged with the only club for women, Stuart Ladies to create an open club.

The sister of former Club president Tony White was ABBA’s UK manager and in 1976, the year their single Money, Money, Money was released, ABBA purchased two boats for City Orient, one of Lea RC’s predecessor clubs.

The I Belong programme has had support from Love Rowing, Canal and River Trust and Hackney Council's Kings Park Moving Together fund.

The Lea RC’s expanded facilities including a new boathouse and gym were opened by Sir Steve Redgrave in 2016, with £770,000 funding from Sport England and British Rowing among others, and an additional £400,00 from club members and friends.

For more information on the Lea RC

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