Support » Support Archive » Expressions of support 2

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.

Dear Sir

I note that on February 13th the Planning Officers of Bedfordshire County Council will make a decision on whether to support the Bedford Rowing Lake project.

Three of us in my family are keen rowers and we strongly support the Rowing Lake Project. Bedford has a long rowing history and consistently produces an impressive array of national and international oarsmen and women.

The River Ouse, with its twists, turns and several bridges is far from being ideal as a training and racing course. It is frequently crowded with boats, in competition with the anglers, who have just as much right to use the river as us rowers. The strong currents and rapidly changing water levels throughout the winter period considerably reduce the safety levels a number of times to a point where rowing has to be suspended.

If, in due course, the Grand Union Canal link comes to fruition, with all its undoubted benefits to leisure and commerce in Bedford, then the increased motorboat traffic will have a considerable impact on the rowing community, with little room for crews to pass.

The Rowing Lake project will not only solve all these problems at a stroke (no pun intended) but will provide such enhanced facilities in a superb and natural environment that Bedford cannot help but become an internationally known centre for rowing and other watersports. But not only that – the Lake Project will also provide a multitude of other facilities and opportunities for leisure activities for Bedford and the surrounding communities and a much needed habitat and haven for wildlife.

I urge everyone involved in the planning and decision-making process to grasp this exciting opportunity and make sure Bedford gets the full benefit from Bedford Rowing Lake.

Dick PeakeStar Rowing Club member

As Events Secretary of Bedford Rowing Club, the Committee and I organise the four biggest rowing events on the river at Bedford at present. At a recent Head of the River Race, we received over 600 entries and regretfully had to turn away a third of them as we could not fit them on the river! This last May and July Regattas which we were involved in, we had a race every 2-3 minutes over a 10 hour period!

You will see from this that Bedford is a major centre for rowing in this country. Our success has been built on putting the oarsmen and women first. To expand even further, we need urgently, a rowing course which can accommodate even larger numbers. We have the infrastrucure, we have the ‘manpower’, we have the enthusiasm. All we need is a course!

John MingayEvents Secretary, BRC

I would like to add my support to this rare opportunity to add something of great worth to the citizens of Bedfordshire, whether rowers specifically or people interested in their environment more generally.

Simon White

Dear Sir

The proposed rowing lake is an excellent idea.

Apart from being a much needed asset for Bedford in terms of the facilities it will offer to everyone and the revenue it will generate, it will also be a great place to take children for picnics, walks and bike rides whilst watching people take part in rowing, windsurfing, canoeing, fishing and lots of the other sports on offer.

Who knows, with such a lovely place to go to, it may inspire some children to take part in sports instead of sitting at home in front of the telly?


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!!

D. Milligan

I believe that Bedford, where rowing is/has and always will be part of our heritage would hugely benefit from the rowing lake. MK has the snow dome, why can’t we have the ‘wet bowl’.

Good luck for the planning aplication.

Alan Harper SmithDirectorRAS Data Support Ltd

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.

Lynne FaulknerConservative County & Borough Councillor Executive Member for Cultural Services

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:

School Sport:
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.

Good access:
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.

Miss Fiona BarkerEx Bedford High School

Dear Sir

Having read the proposals on the website I would like to lend my full support to the rowing lake project. I am not a rower but live locally in Great Barford and feel the area is desperately short of attractive open space. A facility like this would give an ideal venue for dog walkers with small children, like myself, to enjoy open space away from the perils of village traffic and the land at present as an open quarry is unattractive and of no benefit to any member of the community.

Sally HaworthGreat Barford

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.

Richard Groom