Keswick's Lakeland Rowing Club has launched an scheme to make the sport of rowing more affordable and accessible.

The club's chair, Julia McCumiskey, believes in the benefits of rowing and aims to make it more accessible, especially for those suffering from financial hardship.

She said: “Rowing has a reputation as an elitist sport, but that isn’t the case at all.

"Our members are ordinary, local people who enjoy spending time on the water amid some of the country’s loveliest scenery.

“Rowing is great low-impact, full-body exercise, whatever your fitness level. It’s also a fabulous way to de-stress.

"When people are under financial pressure, they need outlets like rowing more than ever, but paying to learn or for ongoing membership can feel like an unaffordable luxury."

News and Star: Junior Lakeland learn-to-row graduates after winning at Hexham RegattaJunior Lakeland learn-to-row graduates after winning at Hexham Regatta (Image: Clive Penkett)

Lakeland Rowing Club, based on Derwentwater, usually charges £110 for an adult weekend learn-to-row course and £40 for juniors.

Both fees include the use of club facilities and equipment for a year with the yearly membership fee for subsequent years being £130 for adults and £70 for students or those under 18.

Ms McCumiskey said: “Our membership fees are already the lowest in the country and, as a charity, it’s important for us that those who can afford to pay full price do so.

"However, we want to make rowing even more accessible, to ensure it’s open to anyone who fancies giving it a try, no matter what their financial status.”

The chair highlighted the club's efforts to ensure discretion and confidentiality.

She said: "Anyone struggling financially can apply to the bursary fund for help.

"There are no intrusive forms to fill in and all applications are confidential.

"Just drop us an email, tell us about your circumstances in a sentence or two and what you can afford to pay, and we’ll take it from there."

The club's first bursary recipient, Aggie, talked about her experience.

She said: "Rowing was on my mind for a long time and I always wanted to try it, especially on beautiful Derwentwater, but it was a bit tricky for me to pay for the course.

"With the cost-of-living crisis and other unexpected expenses, I thought I’d have to put it off for another year. Then I found out about the bursary.

"I’ve met like-minded people and felt a part of the team straight away.

"Being a member of the club gives me a true sense of belonging to the rowing ‘family’ and I look forward to Saturday morning sessions.”

Lakeland Rowing Club is set to hold adult learn-to-row courses on May 18-19, June 29-30, July 27-28 and August 24-25.

For Year 7 students and above, there are junior courses planned for May 4-5, June 8-9 and July 20-21.

If you are interested, details on how to apply can be found on the club's website.