After twenty years without a boathouse, rowing teams at two Bucks schools are hoping to extend the usage of a new site to students in less privileged areas.

Jim Biggs, 57, Volunteer Director of the Marlow and District Schools Boathouse Trust (MDSBT), said the past few decades without a home for school rowing teams in Marlow have taken their toll, with the facilities currently in use at Longridge Activity Centre offering limited usage and provisions.

He said the procurement of new land in Gossmore Lane by the trust spelt good news not just for students at Great Marlow School and Sir William Borlase's Grammar, but also for those further afield in more deprived areas.

Once the trust has built the new site, Jim is hoping to encourage secondary schools in High Wycombe to introduce rowing as an option for the PE GCSE, with lessons taking place at the boathouse near the Marlow Rugby Club grounds. 

"I've seen the positive impact rowing can have on children and the ways that it can bridge divides between people in different walks of life.

"I was watching the Great Britain rowing team in the World Championships the other week, and you can't help but notice that the champions are all white and wealthy and generally the products of private education."

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He described a similar scheme that he helped to run alongside Beechwood School in Slough as "one of the most fulfilling experiences" he has ever had. 

"It's a really deprived school but once the students were out on the boat, they just came to life and started working together and helping each other."

While the land for the new boathouse has already been secured by MDSBT, the organisation is still fundraising for additional facilities that will ensure the safety of school children before contractors are allowed on site.

Jim said: "Our goal is to have a fully functioning boathouse by December 25 and get kids out on the river for the spring training season in 2024." 

He's adamant that the project, which has been a long time coming, will provide potentially life-changing opportunities for schoolchildren for whom rowing was not previously an attainable sporting option.

"My son rowed at Borlase between 2010 and 2014 and I saw firsthand how much better his focus and his grades got as a result of training hard and being part of a team.

"We want this to be a really socially inclusive endeavour that expands the Marlow schools rowing experience out and beyond the limits of the district."