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Local rowing club first past the post in sports awards

A land-locked district at the heart of England might not seem the obvious location for an award-winning rowing club - but the Staffordshire Moorlands can boast one the finest.

North Staffordshire Rowing Club's efforts to encourage young people to take up the sport saw them win the Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (SASSOT) Satellite Club of the Year at the recent awards ceremony after membership of the junior section increased ten-fold in just a few years.

The Satellite Club programme is aimed at encouraging sports clubs to develop links with local schools on school sites.

Junior Head Coach at the Club, Tony Riddington, said they were very pleased to have been named winners: "It means a lot. It's great to be recognised because there were lots of other equally deserving clubs that this award could have gone to. One of the best aspects of winning is that best practice is then shared with other sports so we can all learn from each other - we're very pleased to have won."

The Club, which rows at the picturesque Rudyard Lake, runs a Monday night club for young people at Leek High School throughout the year, except during July and August, and another session on Wednesdays from October to March.

In addition, it also runs sessions in the Spring term at Churnet View Middle School, St Edwards Academy and Endon High School.

Those who transition from the satellite club to the rowing club become regular young rowers who train hard and compete at regional and national level. Older rowing club juniors come back to assist with the satellite club enabling them to develop their leadership skills and provide positive role models for younger members.

This approach has supported the sustainability of the satellite club which is also the result of the strong relationship the club has developed with the school.

Mr Riddington added: "The sessions are proving to be a great way of engaging with young people and their families and getting more people involved in the sport. As a result of the enthusiasm the youngsters have shown, we've now got five parents who are learning to row having been inspired by their children."

The award was presented to the Club by Councillor Brian Johnson, cabinet member for sport and leisure at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. He said: "I was delighted to present this award to North Staffordshire Rowing Club for the fantastic work they do to encourage young people to get involved in the sport.

"It's clearly paying off as the membership of the junior section, which was set up in 2009 with seven members, has increased ten-fold to just over 70 in 2016. The results speak for themselves and I'd like to add my congratulations to the club on winning this much deserved award and wish them, and the youngsters they're inspiring, continued enjoyment of rowing and success in the future."