Devizes Canoe Club finds permanent home

This Is Wiltshire: Members of Devizes Canoe Club at the new base that Wiltshire Council has agreed to transfer Members of Devizes Canoe Club at the new base that Wiltshire Council has agreed to transfer

Rapidly growing Devizes Canoe Club has secured its future after Wiltshire Council agreed to transfer a depot for it to become its base.

The club did not have a base of its own and used storerooms at the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust at The Wharf but the facilities were limited and members had nowhere to change other than in the car park.

The club applied to Wiltshire Council for the transfer of its depot in Lower Wharf, off Northgate Street, under its community asset policy. The depot is a base for car parking staff but the building will become vacant as the staff are relocated.

James Mahoney, a coach and member of the club, told Devizes Area Board, which approved the transfer, that it was vital for the club to secure its own base.

“We are limited in how we take the club forward. We are entirely reliant on neighbours to support us but it’s not sustainable. Unless we have a permanent base the club will struggle to survive,” he said.

The transfer of the depot was consulted on and was supported by bodies including the Canal and River Trust, Wiltshire and Swindon Sports Partnership and Wadworth Brewery, which is next to the depot.

The use of the depot will be restricted to community purposes and if this use ceases the property would revert to Wiltshire Council.

In the five years since the club was formed it has gained about 100 active members, ranging in age from nine to 71, who paddle for pleasure and in competitions. This year the club had the largest UK entry of clubs in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Mr Mahoney said the club is working with Devizes and Lavington schools to introduce pupils to canoeing. Club chairman Kevin Dobson said: “We are all delighted. The club has been running for about five years now and we have done really well in growing the club.”

Mr Dobson said the club would be applying for grants to raise the money needed to convert the depot to its needs and to create a canal access.

Over the next three months the club will apply for around £100,000 in lottery funding through Sport England and Canoe England and look to raise £50,000 locally from grants, fundraising and sponsorship.

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