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Ely College

Ely College

Ely College awarded Gemini Boat Race Bursary

Gemini Boat Race Bursary supports 5 youth projects.

We are delighted to announce that Ely College is one of five projects selected as recipients of The Gemini Boat Race Bursary Fund. Believing in the transformative potentials of sport, Ely College looks forward to building further on its local partnerships and using the profile of the world-famous Boat Race to inspire our young people.

Applications for the fund, which opened in June, were received from all over the UK from a wide range of clubs and organisations focused on making a difference to the lives of young people. Ely College joins Brixton Wings, Behind Every Kick, Firhill Youth Project and Warrington Youth Rowing; recipients hope to use the funds to support and engage with young people after lockdown or enable existing programmes to expand.  The judging panel were both impressed by the dedication and commitment of the volunteers, coaches and youth workers involved in all the projects.

The Five Projects

Ely College

Located near to Cambridge University Ely Boathouse, Ely College, a state school, has in recent years partnered with Isle of Ely Rowing Club to offer rowing taster sessions to over 200 students.  The Gemini Boat Race Bursary award will give more students the opportunity to take part in an activity previously perceived as financially, physically or even mentally inaccessible. Students will have the opportunity to showcase their evolving teamwork and physical skills in local and national competitions, both on the water or as part of indoor Ergo teams.  The well-established college partnership with Isle of Ely Rowing Club, has meant rowing has never been more popular at the school and the support from Gemini will allow for the continuation of summer and Easter taster sessions to ensure the maximum number of students will have any barrier removed, allowing them to taking part in regular rowing sessions.

Jason Coe, PE and Sports Curriculum Leader at Ely College commented: “We are delighted to have received our recently awarded grant from Gemini in partnership with The Boat Race. This grant will allow us to build a strong and sustainable programme of rowing within the college. Rowing provision in the last 2 years has grown tremendously with over 200 students having taster sessions, and many going on to join the local club. We envisage with the support of this grant that Ely College students will be able to develop their experiences and go on to represent the college in both local and national competition in years to come. Look out for us on our beautiful local rivers.”


Behind Every Kick

This organisation empowers young people through a shared love of sport; the charity’s programmes help develop skills learned through playing sports which can be harnessed to create opportunities in students’ wider lives. Gemini and The Boat Race are delighted to be supporting the BEK Development Programme which delivers a series of modules unlocking a lifetime of potential in young people.  These sessions will be delivered by two BEK Trainers from September to December 2021 to 6th Form students at School 21, Stratford London. The students will then plan and execute a range of projects from January 2022 onwards, which build on the BEK Development modules and their rowing experiences.

Brixton Wings

The Gemini Boat Race are delighted to support this ‘can do’ grassroots organisation formed in 2010 whose mission is to advance the life chances and ‘lived experiences’ of young people, who might fail to engage with, or have access to niche sports. Brixton Wings helps participants realise essential life skills through sport. Gemini Boat Race funding will support 50 underrepresented 11–18-year-olds from Brixton and Lambeth to join ‘Learn to Row’ development rowing courses over the half-term holiday in Autumn 2021 and will support life coaching and intergenerational conversations. Gemini and The Boat Race recognised the impact of Brixton Wings work, in improving coordination and concentration, gaining confidence in communicating and supporting positive behaviours and wider life outcomes.   

Firhill Youth Project

This Community Sports Hub has worked very closely with the community in North-West Glasgow, to provide sports opportunities that best suits the needs of the area. Based in the Firhill Basin, beside the Partick Thistle Football Club Stadium - the centre provides free weekly rowing sessions along with other water sports activities.  With support from volunteers and college students, there is always a warm welcome to young people from North Glasgow. Since 2019 eighty-five 11–18-year-olds have taken part in the Learn to Row programme.  The Gemini Boat Race Bursary is delighted to support the expansion of this project to double the number of free rowing sessions offered and enable more young people to experience the benefits of taking part in sport.

Warrington Youth Rowing (WYR)

Opening empty rowing clubs across the UK for daytime access so that hundreds of school children can learn to row is the ambition of this initiative.  Founded to offer rowing to young people who might otherwise might not have the opportunity to join a rowing club, Warrington YR now has two additional hubs in Liverpool and Northwich.  In the space of five years, 28 secondary schools and 2 special schools now have over 300 students involved in rowing at local rowing clubs. The GBR award will support the WYR ambition to grow the number of schools involved through the appointment of a school liaison officer. 


The Boat Race Chairman, Tim Senior says, “We are thrilled to work with our partner Gemini in supporting these five projects, making a difference to young people in the UK. Each project brings a unique opportunity to experience and take part in rowing in a local community, and has been carefully selected from a raft of applications, because of the impact it can have on youngsters’ lives. We hope that the combination of rowing and the life skills offered by each project, will mean that participants can step forwards in their lives. We look forward to meeting the young people who join the projects and hearing more about their rowing journey.”

Blair Halliday, Head of UK, Gemini says:We are proud to announce the sponsorship of these five selected projects through the Gemini Boat Race Bursary Fund, which support young people across a range of communities in the UK. The projects we have chosen to sponsor provide life-changing opportunities to make sport and rowing both inclusive and accessible to young people who would otherwise be excluded. The popularity of the sport has grown tremendously over the years, and we are excited to help grow the sport further by bringing it to a more diverse and inclusive audience.”