Iconic sports venues across England and Wales will be renamed for 24 hours this week to honour grassroots sport community workers and volunteers who, with the support of National Lottery funding, have gone above and beyond during lockdown. 

The Pinsent Redgrave Rowing Lake in Caversham will be renamed the Turner Farquharson Rowing Lake after Isobel Turner and Lawrence Farquharson. The two coaches from London Youth Rowing used their roles at the organisation to change the lives of young people for the better this year.

Other venues to change names this week will be Twickenham rugby stadium, The Kia Oval, The Paula Radcliffe Athletics Track, The Geraint Thomas Velodrome in Wales and The National Outdoor Centre in Wales

The venue name changes and the special dedications are taking place following the findings of a new UK wide study commissioned by The National Lottery, which shows that almost half (44 percent) of adults believe 2020 should be the year we celebrate everyday sporting heroes as much as elite athletes and two out of three people (67 percent) say the pandemic has increased their love of sports and being active.

Isobel, 27, is a community coach at London Youth Rowing and lives in Greenwich with mum Carole, dad Keith and older sister Rachel. Lawrence, 57, is an outreach community coach at London Youth Rowing and lives in Islington with wife Lyanna.

London Youth Rowing is a ground-breaking sports charity that aims to develop young people through physical activity and to open access to rowing at all levels. Using the power of sport, their work enables disadvantaged young people to develop their life skills and improve their physical, social and mental wellbeing – proving to be a crucial organisation for their local community throughout the pandemic.

Isobel recalls lockdown as one of the tougher tests of her career as a young rowing coach. As the only coach among her team who wasn’t furloughed, Isobel was required to keep in contact with the 65 schools that the London Youth Rowing programme usually work with.

She Said: “One of my toughest moments was being the only coach who wasn’t furloughed for a period of time, feeling as though I wasn’t making much progress. But being able to continue with the work I was doing was great. There are usually five or six coaches and there are 65 schools to stay in contact with. Over a period of time, I was e-mailing all of them.

“Lawrence came back early from furlough because some of his schools said they could have him in. That also made a massive difference having one person back, to lighten the load.

“Throughout lockdown, we were unable to get into schools and couldn’t be as active as we usually would be. We have had to adapt a lot.” said Isobel. 

Isobel said: “We usually go into around 10 schools a week and for me, not having that connection with the kids has been hard. We investigated developing different resources for schools and our coaches have taken part in exercise videos which we have shared with them to try and encourage development.

“As coaches, we are physically there for people – that’s what we do – so not being able to do that was tough,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence says: “I live in a block of flats so I was trying to find ways of adapting exercises. Finding ways of using tools around the home was important. I did little videos lifting paint tins, running up and down steps and things.

“National Lottery funding helped fund Active Row,” said Lawrence. “That funding has helped put rowing machines in up to 70 schools across four years. 

“I am so humbled by this recognition, it’s amazing. The two of us have come to rowing from different backgrounds – Isobel grew up with it and I am a confident personality– so for us both to have this impact… I’m really honoured.

"It’s not as if we come into it for prizes and trophies – we are youth workers and we do it because we enjoy it and want to give something back.”

Dame Katherine Grainger, UK Sport Chair said, “It’s fantastic that sports across the nations have been able to come together to celebrate grassroots champions who have gone above and beyond this year. Around £30m a week is raised for good causes across the UK by people playing The National Lottery, and has helped sport at all levels, from the smallest rowing club to helping athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympics next year.”  

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “With the help of The National Lottery’s players, thousands of grassroots sports workers and volunteers from local clubs and organisations across the UK have been be able to continue to help people and communities to remain active, connected and motivated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grassroots sport also has a fundamental role to play in providing much needed physical and mental wellbeing in these difficult times.”