North East Connected

Banks Group Stands up for Northumberland Paddle Boarders

People in Northumberland now have new opportunities to try one of the UK’s fastest-growing water sports thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.
The Coquet Shorebase Trust, which provides water-based recreational opportunities for people of all ages, has taken delivery of six new stand-up paddleboards after securing a £5,000 donation from the Banks Group via its Banks Community Fund.
And it is inviting people from across the county to come and find out if stand up paddleboarding could be something for them, with initial tuition available to help new starters get out onto the water.
Four single paddleboards and two larger ones which can take up to eight people have been bought with the Banks Community Fund grant, and they’re already proving popular with the hundreds of people who use the Coquet Shorebase Trust’s equipment every month.
The Trust, which celebrates its silver anniversary next year, already offers canoeing, sailing and windsurfing from its bases in Druridge Bay Country Park and at The Braid in Amble, and aims to provides opportunities for everybody, regardless of age, income, experience and ability.
All the equipment and clothing required for each pastime is available from the Trust, and as well as hosting local school and youth groups, the Trust also has strong links with the Amble Development Trust and Hadston House youth and community centre.
Most of its income comes from running activity sessions for groups and individuals, and the small fees paid by users to hire equipment, with grant funding sought wherever possible.
Volunteer-run clubs for each of the Trust’s activities are available for people who want to carry on with their chosen sport after trying it out, and its management team is hoping that the new paddleboards will further increase the number of people taking advantage of what’s on offer.
Vic Brown, volunteer manager at the Coquet Shorebase Trust, says: “Our aim is to make recreational activities available to anyone who wants to try them, so they have chances to find out if they enjoy them that they might not otherwise get, and we get hundreds of people coming through our doors to give new sports a go.
“Stand-up paddleboarding has really taken off over the last few years, and is a sport that people of any age can get started with in just a few minutes.
“We’ve wanted to add it to the list of activities that we offer for some time, but the need to keep all our equipment up to the right standard by replacing older items as they wear out meant that we didn’t have the money available to do so.
“The volunteers that help us run everything already put a great deal of time into the club and so don’t really have any spare for fundraising for this sort of project, and without the support we’ve had from the Banks Group, we simply wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy these paddleboards.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from the paddleboarders who’ve tried out the new kit so far, and we’re hoping more people from across the county will now come along to give it a go.”
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at the Banks Group, adds: “The whole Coquet Shorebase Trust team dedicates a huge amount of time and energy to their work, and we’re very pleased to be helping them expand what they can do.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.  Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.
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