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.

I’d like to register my full support for the Rowing Lake. The area is increasingly popular with local families already (Cycling from the ‘Marina’ to Danish Camp is a great way to spend a Sunday Afternoon). Having the lake and surrounding area to explore and picnic in will be a fantastic addition to Bedford. It will attract tourism to the area as well as Major Rowing events.

Anyone with any doubts as to the benefits should take a look at the areas around the Rowing lake in Peterborough. Not just Thorpe Park itself, but Ferry Meadows nearby is a beautiful place to visit. If we could mirror this, and include tastefully-planned Children’s play areas, then that would be the icing on the cake.

The potential for the town, not just the Rowers, is huge.

Duncan Goodes

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

Keyth RichardsonMA FHCIMA M Inst TT Cert Ed.

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

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.

Rhys GoodwinConservative Councillor for Toddington

I am writing to let you know of my strong support for Bedford Rowing Lake. There is a clear need for a world class facility that will elevate the region’s status in the sport and complement the facilities and reputation of Bedford Athletic Club.

Bedford’s premier asset is it’s stunning river location and it seems not just logical but essential to build on this asset, as well as to provide a sporting facility for local residents and UK sportsmen and women.

I sincerely hope that this project will go ahead, and that we can all look forward to a new jewel in Bedford’s crown.

Elizabeth S Clark

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

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?

Debbie

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.

Mr A Callow

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