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Gillingham kayakers celebrate grant boost

Sea Scouts in Gillingham are looking forward to making a splash with their new kayaking kit, following a sports grant from the local electricity firm.

From News & press - 25 May 2021 12:00 AM

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Paul Austin, a volunteer activity leader at 4th Gillingham Sea Scouts, applied for a £250 Team Sport Award for the club from his employer, UK Power Networks.

The grant, one of several the Sea Scouts have received from UK Power Networks, paid for the replacement of five spray decks, which prevent water entering the kayak.

Paul, a lead engineer, who helps to keep power supplies flowing locally said: “Like all community groups the Sea Scouts struggled to meet up during Covid restrictions. It’s brilliant to see people back out on the water learning and enjoying themselves.

“Like everyone else we have faced a challenging year, so when we receive grants from local companies, such as UK Power Networks, they make a big difference to the quality of programme we can deliver for young people and they are very welcome. We are always struggling to find the money to replace our kit and any time we spend fundraising takes us away from delivering exciting activities for the Scouts. It would take a lot of car washing to raise that much money.”

4th Gillingham Sea Scouts normally runs an action-packed programme of sailing, kayaking, canoeing and power boating, plus whitewater rafting trips to Wales. The group has approximately 80 members and is based at Medway Yacht Club, Hoo. They meet on Monday evenings for kayaking and Friday evenings for sailing. They have a meeting hall at Berengrave Lane, Rainham, Gillingham.

Paul said: “Our Sea Scouts earn badges, work in the community and become rounded citizens. They also have a chance to gain qualifications in canoeing, kayaking, sailing and power boating. I hope, through Scouting, we make a difference to society and that when people look back they appreciate everything they learnt and decide to give something back themselves.

“It is extremely rewarding volunteering as an activity leader with the Sea Scouts. It’s great to see young people progress and improve. It inspires me and has a number of benefits. I’m the sort of person who never would have got involved in kayaking if it hadn’t been for this.

“Scouting has had young people who have started their kayaking in a local scout group go on to compete at a national level in kayaking. 4th Gillingham group is also one of a number of groups recognised and assessed by the Royal Navy, which gives us additional benefits and a wider programme for our Scouts.”

The Team Sport Award scheme is run by UK Power Networks to encourage staff to volunteer in the community and is aimed at promoting healthy living, teamwork and developing sports opportunities. In 2020, more than 60 local sports teams connected to UK Power Networks’ staff benefitted from a share in £15,500.