A CANOE club for young people has reluctantly gone down the volunteer route after Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) axed its funding.
The Riverside Canoe Club on the River Dee hit the headlines last summer when the council made a U-turn after the Chronicle discovered it was about to shut the Chester-based club in the middle of the Olympics.
But council chief executive Steve Robinson hinted the club may be run by volunteers in future, which has now come to fruition after a committee comprising senior instructor Ian McMullen and parents was formed.
The authority previously paid Ian’s wages and that of another part-time coach, amounting to £17,679 wages per year, as well as the £6,000 annual rent on the Queen’s Park High School boathouse.
CWaC has donated the equipment and agreed to pay the first year’s rent but after that it will be down to parents to fundraise.
The price of the Sunday morning sessions has already risen, from £3 to £5.
“I personally wanted to keep it going and the young people want to keep it going,” said Ian, who chairs the committee of the voluntary organisation, which is affiliated to the British Canoe Union.
“At the moment the parents are being very supportive. I have been quite pleased at how much help I have got.”
He added: “I have written a constitution and done all the paperwork – there’s been hours and hours of it.
“We just get on with it. I have got eight volunteer coaches. They were always there and always volunteers.”
Ian, a former part-time worker, whose speciality is always canoeing and kayaking, has been on the river since 1984.
He said the young people, aged 11-20, not only achieve water sport qualifications but develop social skills such as working as a team and growing in confidence. Children with special needs have benefited enormously.
For further details, visit www.chesterriversidecanoeclub.btck.co.uk.