A NEW rowing boat to be used by people with various disabilities from across Dudley borough has been launched.

The first of its kind in the Black Country, Access in Dudley, an organisation which looks at access issues for all, but particularly for those with a disability, will use the boat to give local people the opportunity to learn the popular sport.

Working in partnership with Dudley Rowing Club, the charity secured a £10,000 grant from Sport England to buy a stable quad rowing boat, which can be used with sweep or skull oars.

The boat, named AID1 in honour of the organisation, was launched by the Deputy Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Dave Tyler, and Halesowen MP James Morris at Netherton Reservoir, the home of the rowing club, on Thursday (September 1).

Mr Morris told the News: “It's a very good initiative. There are disabled people here from Halas Homes, an organisation who care for people in Halesowen, who cannot wait to get involved and get out on the water.

“Anything we can do to provide more opportunities and support for disabled people in Dudley borough should be praised and this boat is an excellent way to do that.”

Cllr Tyler added: “I think it is great that Access in Dudley has been able to get the funds to provide this incredible boat to disabled people across the borough.

“We now need to make sure that more people know about it so the boat is used and we get more people, not just those who are disabled, taking up the sport here in Dudley.

“However, there charity currently have nowhere to store the boat so I want to call on anyone in the borough who can provide storage to contact Dudley Rowing Club.”

Tina Boothroyd, chairman of Access in Dudley and Dudley Rowing Club, said: “Following Team GB’s success on the water at the Rio Olympics, we’re absolutely delighted to have secured this funding.

“It will give local people, who may have thought learning to row was not an option for them, the opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy a new sport.”

The bid to Sport England has been supported by Netherton Water Sports Centre, Dudley’s Council public health and British Rowing.

Jo Atkinson, British Rowing’s West Midlands development manager, said: “We have done a lot of work with Tina to get the club up-and-running and for us it’s just great to see more people in the Midlands get involved with the sport.”

Councillor Rachel Harris, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “It’s really important we do all we can to support people of all abilities to get involved in sport.

“AID1 is a great addition to Dudley Rowing Club and I hope it will encourage more and more people to give rowing a go.”

Anyone interested in getting involved and learning to row in Access in Dudley’s new boat, or for more on Dudley Rowing Club, should visit www.facebook.com/DudleyRowing