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Gravesend's historic river races could be thing of the past

PUBLISHED: 16:32 02 June 2011

Regatta river racing

Regatta river racing

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»More than 160 years of town rowing regattas could be set to end as the chairman of the 
organising committee warns his organisation is on the verge of collapse.

The famous Gravesend Town Regatta, to be held this Saturday and Sunday, will be the last should the Regatta Committee collapse, as membership numbers have halved from 18 to nine in the past decade.

Ian Stevenson, a member for 38 years and in his second stint as chairman, is desperate to recruit new blood to prevent the historic event from dying out.

He said: “There is a very real possibility this could be the last year. Without wanting to cause offence, none of our members are getting any younger and we need new bodies to help out.

“I was born in Gravesend and there is a real sense of tradition here. It shouldn’t be forgotten the town is only here because of the river.”

Volunteers

The weekend’s activities support a number of national charities, including Macmillan Cancer Nurses, Cancer Research, Great Ormond Street Hospital, but also local groups such as Gravesend Volunteers Bureau and the local RNLI, which looks to recruit volunteers on 
the regatta days.

Ian Dunkley, station manager at Gravesend lifeboat station, said: “It would be very sad, both historically and for the RNLI. These days are very important to us as it gives us a chance to speak with the public and raise the profile.”

Alongside organising both the Town Regatta and the Summer Regatta, on July 23, committee members are responsible for overseeing training on the Thames in the committee’s boats, four fibreglass skiffs, and keeping them water worthy during the winter months.

Anyone interested in joining the committee can call Mr Stevenson on 01474 535 022.

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