Below, in a slideshow format are just some of the comments, letters and emails of support we have received for the Bedford Rowing Lake project.
To whom it may concern
I wanted to offer my support to the development of the proposed rowing lake as highlighted on the web site http://www.bedford-rowing-lake.com. I believe that if this proposal is not supported by the local community and more specifically the local council that this will prove to be a great loss for the people of Bedfordshire both current and in the future.
We are constantly bombarded with messages in the local paper about how Bedford is trying to rejuvenate and offer itself as an attractive place to work, live and indeed to visit. We also see messages of despair from similar people bemoaning the fact that Milton Keynes is causing the downfall of the Bedfordshire area and that the town is unable to compete due to the superior facilities that MK offers. Well it would seem that in the rowing lake that Bedford has an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over the “big bad bully boy” that is Milton Keynes and to offer something different to that offered in the surrounding area – an opportunity to Innovate not Imitate (usually on a smaller scale).
And this, I guess that is the rub. For the leaders and pathfinders of this world, innovation is the key to onwards development for the less skilled, able and visionary public servant – imitation is a far less risky, albeit less potentially rewarding, path as it has already been proven by someone else. I realise that rowing is regarded as a minority sport and as such the councillors will argue that it is not in the interests of the general public – however, even in a local perspective remember the pride in the area following the Olympic Gold medal winning exploits of Redgrave (including local boy Tim Foster). Likewise, the meteoric rise of our own Paula was met with huge local pride, even giving her the dubious honour of naming a road after her – to my knowledge Marathon running is not a sport supported or undertaken by a large majority of the local population. I would like to draw one more parallel, and that is the historic belief that rugby was for the upwardly mobile members of the community, football being the working mans game – and yet look at the national pride as the recent winning exploits of the England rugby team in Australia.
It would also appear that outside of sport the rowing lake, the area will also create some stunning local landscape while will benefit all in the local area and who knows may even bring a few people into the local area, who may even “spend a few quid” while they are here, benefiting local business.
Should the local people and their representatives take the easy way out on the rowing lake, then it is likely that this stance will capitulate on other issues. In the short term, this will mean that rowing, locally at least remain an elitist sport and the opportunity to get involved for the next potential generation of world champions will not come from Bedford.
I trust that the views highlighted in this email, which are my own (and I should point out that I have never rowed in a boat – so it can not be condemned as the ramblings of a core activist in the sport), may strike a note with the policy makers within the local area and will highlight the road upon which has been embarked for too long and must now be redressed before it is too late for Bedfordshire and “big bad MK” has taken all.
I leave you with these words “PRIDE IN BEDFORD”.
As a former rower at Bedford High School I wish to inform you of my wholehearted support for the rowing lake proposal.
I wish to underline the huge recreational and economical benefits that a rowing lake would bring to Bedford.
Rowing as a sport has gained huge popularity internationally particularly since our success in the last Olympics (including Tim Foster former Bedford Modern School pupil). It is a sport that is enjoyed at any level by 15 year olds through to 60 year olds.
The lake would be easily accessible for crews from all over the country and indeed from abroad.
As greater and greater demands are put upon open and green spaces in the South of England a rowing lake would be a highly valued asset by local people one which could be enjoyed by all.
Since the crass decision to bring the canal into Bedford at Kempston will destroy river rowing in Bedford and replace it with noisy dirty diesel boats, it is important to have a rowing centre to replace it.
I trust the planners will allow the application
The County Council has a vibrant vision for Bedfordshire. In principle the County Members want to see substantial “Olympic” and associated preparation activity taking place in Bedfordshire over the next few years and I for one would like to see this venture, among others, succeed.
Good luck with getting the lake built. I know that it will prove to be a massive positive influence on the area both economically and socially.
We will be able to provide a much better service to the local water clubs, as well as appealing to some of the great and the good high performance athletes around the country. It can only serve to raise our profile and confirm Bedford as one of the premier rowing locations in the country. With the East rivaling the Thames area for participation and with the arrival of Project Oarsome, Go Row, World class Start and Project Oarsome Plus I think that it is vital that we be involved in supporting the surge of popularity that is surrounding water sports at this time. Best Wishes and let me know if I can help.
As a Bedfordian born and bred I am surprised that it has taken so long for this project to get to this stage and congratulate those who have been working so hard to see this ambition fulfilled.
The issue here is not really better facilities for water sports with a sensational park for the enjoyment of all Bedfordians, this is far more important than that. It is one of opportunity to enliven the economy of the area. The Lake will bring jobs and industry to our area and be a boost to the aspirations of local people.
This Lake will bring to Bedford a status of excellence not only in the UK but internationally . The town is already known for John Bunyan, its football team, its rowing and its schools but this Lake far exceeds anything that we have had the chance to enjoy before.
There must be no more ambivalence, those making this decision should be proud of the new opportunities they are bringing to the Town, those thinking negatively should bear in mind that they are denying local young people a new future with nothing as an alternative.
“No you can not have the lake and we have nothing else to offer you as an alternative” is not a slogan for anyone’s manifesto, it will be seized on by opposition parties should this chance go begging. Heaven help any planning officer denying our young people a better future.
Heads up Bedfordians our town now has a great future.
Dear Sir or Madam
I would like to offer my support of the proposed new rowing facility at Willington, Beds.
I have been a resident in Bedford for the past 40 years and to date I cannot recall the Borough, or County for that matter, proceeding with any application that has enthused the public and led to national recognition.
In my present employment I am constantly challenged to be inventive and have vision. I was always led to believe that people in positions of authority were there because they were deemed to be innovative, have vision and were prepared to take chances in order to achieve the goal. I am afraid that in my opinion both the Borough and County have been sadly lacking in these qualities.
We constantly read about ‘ideas’ emanating from those on high. How often are they put in practise? How slow are they to recognise the potential and move projects forward? It takes a very special character indeed to take up the challenge. I would like to say to our councillors – ‘Are you one of those?’ If not then perhaps you should question why you are doing the job.
With this proposal we have the opportunity not only to develop a facility for public use but also to begin the process of putting Bedford on the map. I go to places like Nottingham, Peterborough, Norwich etc, all because they have a facility that is not available in or near to Bedford. In addition at this present time the government are ‘trying hard’ to put money into sporting facilities for the public. Millions are being allocated by the Lottery, New Opportunities Fund, Football Foundation, to name but a few. There is a national recognition that more and more of the youth of today are suffering from obesity. I could go on…
Let’s stop the talking and get back to the basics. Remember, you are there to do a job to serve the public in their interests. Get on and do it. The old saying ‘ Action speaks louder than words’ should be at the forefront of anyone with visionary powers. Where do you stand in all of this? Do you have the action or just the words?
You have the opportunity to make that difference and I would ask you to grasp it and proceed with the development while you still have the chance.
We fully support the use of the land in Willington to be used as a rowing lake and park facility.
Facilities like this are very few and far between and we could make Bedford the envy of many others by having it in our own district.
Bedford has long been known as a rowing town and this park will make Bedford a rowing capital . Our town always seems to lose out on the facilities and parks front to other neighbouring counties.
I look forward to taking my children there and making them proud of their town.
Lets just get on with it!!
I am the Bedfordshire County Council Executive Member for Cultural Services, a diverse new Portfolio which includes sport and the Countryside Access Service. I am also a Bedford Borough Councillor, resident in Bedford and lived for 10 years in Cople, close to Willington.
I am delighted to support publicly Willington Rowing Lake , which will enhance our world class reputation for producing Olympic standard rowers in Bedford. Bedfordshire County Council are strongly promoting this project as a wonderful asset for the 2013 Olympics.
Bedfordshire County Council is actively supporting this project by submitting a bid to the ODPM for £200k under the Growth Area Funding Round 2. Tim Malynn, our Director of Environment, also promoted Willington Rowing Lake last week at the East of England launch of the Big Lottery Fund.
Dear Sir / Madam
We have the opportunity to do wonderful things for Bedford at what appears, finally, to be a time of proposed renewal in the town centre and alongstretches of the Embankment and also, outside with this super rowing lake and park. If handled right, our generation could really do something great for the Town and County, instead of always watching other towns be creative and seizing opportunities.
I support the lake for several reasons:
Firstly Bedford has a strong rowing history, my mother was a founder member of the Bedford Women’s Rowing club and my sister rowed for her school. I took up coxing at Polytechnic and participated in events in Bedford. Indeed, when Pilgrim school still existed they started a rowing club. With the success of Tim Foster (ex Bedford Modern School) at the last Olympics (and Stephanie Cook – Gold for Penthalon, ex Bedford High School and former College Rower at Peterhouse College, Cambridge) – Bedford was really put on the sporting map – we really should build on this and make the most of these links. The lottery is now funding rowing training and talent spotting for the National Squads so that we can maintain the reputation that Britain has earned for Rowing achievement. Rowing is a peaceful, environmentally sound activity that fits in well in the countryside as well as the town. It can be enjoyed by young pupils of 13 through to veterans in their sixties and older and increasingly from all backgrounds. It can be a very exciting sport to watch.
The lake would be in a central location in England with good access from the M1 and A1 and so could become a very popular National venue. Therefore it could be used for high profile National training as well as teaching local youngsters.
All the above would bring positive PR to Bedford.
Other important spin offs:
It would be excellent sense to make good use of flood land leading from the Marston Vale Forest and Priory Country Park. Therefore this would reflect good planning by linking up existing leisure and recreational areas. The lake and park would be a valuable green lung next to bypass and on the edge of town (long associated with polluted air from the Brick Works). The site is right next to the most historic part of the village of Willington with its fabulous 15th century dove cote (the largest historic dovecote in the UK with links to Henry VIII) and an added ‘pull’ for visitors to the lake and any events. The lake would also be a fantastic space for serious conservation work (the RSPB is about four miles away) and naturally could be used for fishing, walking, ecology etc.
In conclusion Bedford should maximise this chance to develop sympathetically a superb area for sport, leisure, conservation and heritage.