Kinghorn rowing project helping women’s confidence

Row your boat: Phil directs the Dream Team. Pic by Fife Photo Agency.
Row your boat: Phil directs the Dream Team. Pic by Fife Photo Agency.

A brave group of women from the Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy say that taking part in a new rowing project has helped them to overcome many of their fears and build self confidence.

Eight women from the Cottage were chosen by their family support worker to take part in the initiative run by Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club, after it was given a grant from Foundation Scotland to encourage women to participate in a tailored programme to enhance their wellbeing.

The Cottage ladies at Kinghorn Loch.

The Cottage ladies at Kinghorn Loch.

The women, who were picked because they needed a bit of support and would normally never think of joining a rowing club, were at first a bit apprehensive.

But after a few sessions of rowing, guided by more experienced oarsmen and women from the club, their confidence grew and they were soon picking up the skills involved and cutting through the waters of Kinghorn Loch like seasoned rowers.

And for four of those involved, who have christened themselves ‘The Dream Team’ it has become something of an obsession which they look forward to each week with great enthusiasm.

“When I first heard about it I thought we were going out in canoes,” said Michelle Wallace.

Gordon Brown, honorary patron and Gillian Downs, family worker with the Cottage with the women who are taking part in the project and members of the rowing club.

Gordon Brown, honorary patron and Gillian Downs, family worker with the Cottage with the women who are taking part in the project and members of the rowing club.

“We were excited, but a bit scared at the same time.

“For the first few times we were like fish out of water and getting soaked because we couldn’t row properly, but each time we got a bit better and now we all love it.”

Laura Dewar (30), added: “It was a bit of a nightmare to start with but now I feel like I can really do something well and it feels brilliant. It has really helped my confidence.”

Gillian Downs, family worker at the Cottage, said: “It’s amazing the difference in all the women who have all really grown in confidence and also improved their health.”

Last week the women were presented with certificates from the club by Gordon Brown, honorary patron of the Cottage, who congratulated them on their achievement.

In addition they received a free year’s membership of the club to enable them to keep up with their new found hobby.

The ‘Access to Rowing’ pilot scheme was set up through a Grass Roots Grant from Baillie Gifford, an Edinburgh-based financial company, and administered through Foundation Scotland.

The club used Kinghorn Loch to teach the woment the necessary skills before progressing out on to the open coastal waters for the first time last week.

The group was offered the use of the community yurt for changing and having warming cups of tea during the winter months.

Phil Godding, chairman of Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club, said: “When the firls first came along none of them had been in a rowing boat and now some of them are better than some of our members!

“They have really come out of their shells, and they’ve been great to work with.”

Christine Feechan, past chairman, added: “We applied for this grant from Baillie Gifford and were delighted when we were successful.

“Some of our members knew about the work the Cottage does with vulnerable families in Kirkcaldy and we approached them with the idea, which they were happy to take part in.

“It’s all about helping women to build their self esteem and improve their mental health and wellbeing, and we hope to be able to offer it again to another group from the Cottage Centre.

“While they are out on the water their children are looked after in the creche at the centre and some of our members pick them up from Kirkcaldy and bring them along then take them back afterwards.

“It has proved a very worthwhile project for everyone involved.”