With 2022 already fading fast in the rear view mirror, Christmas a distant memory and only a couple of weeks until this year’s Race The Thames Virtual, 2023 is already taking on a life of its own. But before we consign last year to the history books, it seems right to take a moment to look back on 2022’s challenges and successes - it was quite a year for LYR and deserves a moment of reflection before we’re consumed by the next chapter.
Our Active Row programme continued to widen its breadth of impact, with established locations continuing to develop, and new locations beginning. Coach Sam took on the new challenge from his role of programmes coach to managing and coaching the new Active Row Borough of Islington. This time last year Coach Lawrence set up the new programme in Kent, with Coach Trevor following suit in September with Active Row \Nottingham. Coach Rebecca continued to develop the programme in Leeds with great success. LYR now boasts its highest number of bases in our history and it is fantastic to be delivering social impact at scale across the country.
The Oarsome Challenge was our biggest yet, a fantastic achievement as the event returned for the first time post-covid. 24 teams from a range of companies took to the water and rowed down the Thames over two days. On what was some of the hottest weather of the year, the crews got themselves dressed up in fancy dress, found some willing teammates and raised thousands of pounds for LYR and other charities in the process. Rowing from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, through the centre of London and then a race from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge (the same course as the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race) as the sun was setting, was a sight to see. They were all exhausted and ready for the cold drinks and food at the finish line but so many said that they would do it again. We already have the dates pencilled in for 2023!
Although it seems a lifetime ago, in early 22 there was still a great deal of uncertainty about covid. Like everyone, LYR had to adapt to the remaining constraints of covid, whilst preparing for the environment after it. One of our best innovations to this strange time was the successful implementation of the second virtual NJIRC - with over 7000 participants competing online across the country. Across the week coaches went to different schools, creating a competitive environment in the classroom. Seeing the pupils cheer each other on and give their all, without being in the copper box, was a rewarding experience. We will look forward to being back at the Copper Box this March, and taking NJIRC north for the first time in Leeds, but keep a real sense of pride at having delivered an enormously successful virtual event despite the challenges we faced.
We raised a record amount through Race the Thames – £130,000. We delivered a week where different teams from schools to corporates were able to work together to achieve something amazing. All whilst spreading the word of LYR: who we are, what we do, and what our impact is.
Alongside all these highlights are the thousands of real-life stories that were written in 2022, with LYR being a catalyst in them. Those young people that have discovered a new sport, developed a life skill, drew a new version of themselves that they are proud of. These are the stories that fuel the work we do, that turn those days of cold on the water warm. As we press ahead through the rest of January and into the rest of the year, we will continue to help guide the pen on the writing of new stories, always looking forward to new potential, whilst casting a proud eye back to the achievements of last year.