A team of four Leeds health and care colleagues travelled to Nottingham to take part in the British Rowing Masters Championship at the National Water Sports Centre.
This was their first major rowing race since COVID-19 restrictions were put into place, and despite being unable to row for a large amount of time due to these restrictions, the four-woman team defeated all odds and went on to win Gold in their race, the Women’s Masters C Coxless Quad.
The crew consisted of Kate Riley, Early Years SEN Advisory Teacher; Steph Bew, Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist; Naomi Assame, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and NHS Resolution Learning and Safety Lead (North); and Kate O’Connell, Director of Leeds Strategic Workforce & Health and Care Academy.
All four members of the crew work as part of the amazing local health and care workforce, and throughout the pandemic, all of the team members had to work hard to juggle training around the challenges of working in health and care, as well as busy family lives. Once restrictions lifted and rowing was allowed once again, the crew members aimed for two water sessions per week, and a further two-to-three land-based training sessions per week.
Despite the obvious time and work obstacles, the Leeds Rowing Club team defeated Twickenham, Putney Town and Trentham (two London Clubs, and one from Stoke on Trent) in a straight final.
Speaking about the win, Kate O’Connell, Director of Leeds Strategic Workforce & Health and Care Academy, and member of the winning Leeds Rowing Club team, says: “Myself and the three other members of the rowing crew are part of a friendly, supportive (and competitive!) Women’s Masters Squad at Leeds Rowing Club. We’ve been rowing together for a long time, and despite COVID restrictions creating an obvious physical training barrier, we stayed in close contact, and supported each other throughout. Rowing really has been a life-line for us during these last 15 months – it’s motivated us to maintain our physical health, promoted mental wellbeing, and provided friendship during an isolating time for many. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved during such a difficult period of time; we’re absolutely delighted to bring home the gold for Leeds!”