NEWBURY CANOE CLUB is paddling towards the last £15,000 it needs to fund the building of a new £330,000 clubhouse on its old site alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal in the heart of the town.
The club, host to the annual Waterside Series of races as a build-up to the annual Devizes to Westminster marathon, has almost reached its target figure to replace the now demolished that served as its headquarters for decades.
That did not stop the club producing top quality paddlers, including former World K1 Slalom champion and Olympic competitor Shaun Pearce, and the Devizes-Westminster record holder Tim Cornish.
But the aging building became unfit for purpose, forcing the club to build a new base. Preliminary work has begun after the club raised £70,000 and earned grants totalling another £231,000 from the Greenham Trust, Sport England, Canoe England, Armed Forces Military Covenant and Thatcham Town Council.
Now the last hurdle of £15,000 will be matched by the Greenham Common Trust to meet the total cost of erecting a new building to provide changing rooms, showers, toilets, a club room and catering facilities with new equipment to offer sessions on the water for local people in a safe environment.
The new facility will also safeguard the running of the Waterside Series, the largest regular mass participation event on the marathon canoeing calendar.
The club has obtained full planning permission for the development along with a new 99 year lease from West Berkshire Council, and riverside improvements are already under way.
The club has always had strong military connections, and among its current 100-plus membership is the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Nicholas Pope, and the aim is to involve military and civilian members in the opening of the new building, with the aim of a September completion.
“We will look into an event to celebrate the opening,” said the club’s Military Community Covenant Rep representative Alex Burt, “possibly inviting key paddlers like Shaun Pearce back to the club.”
Prior to that date, the club will be staging its Waterside Series, with the opening race from Great Bedwyn to Newbury on Sunday, February, to be followed by increasing distances on March 5, 19 and April 2 prior to the Devizes-Westminster race over the Easter weekend.
Ed Cooper is the club contact for business or individual donations on 07899 794794, or via the Newbury Canoe Club project on the Good Exchange website thegoodexchange.com