Students from Harris Westminster Sixth Form Academy have begun a boating course on the River Thames thanks to Tideway funding.
The school aims to send young people from more deprived areas of London to top universities –and is a new partner for Westminster Boating Base (WBB), the water sports charity based on the Thames close to Tideway’s construction sites in Nine Elms.
Tideway gave WBB funding in 2020 to allow it to re-start its activities once pandemic restrictions had lifted and the charity chose its neighbour Harris for the powerboating course, which will run until the summer.
Among the first group of students on the course was 17-year-old David Isuwe from Wembley, who had never been on the Thames and has only seen it on a few occasions. He said: “This is so cool, it gives you a different perspective on London.”
Brooke Montgomery, also 17 from Hillingdon, said: “Being on the Thames was so exhilarating. It was amazing to be on the water and locate some very well-known locations, but most of all, being able to drive a boat on the river was something I'll never forget! I'm so thankful that my first experience on the river included driving a boat myself.”
A more experienced hand was their classmate Khyrham Tose, 18, who lives nearby and has been a member at WBB since he was 10, gaining qualifications in sailing, kayaking and powerboating. He was one of the instructors for the first session. He said: “I love coming down to the base. Two visits on the water are never the same and it’s an escape. It’s £15 a year for a junior membership and has taught me so much.”
Peter Croucher, a teacher from Harris Westminster, said: “The students had a wonderful time. Almost 40 per cent of our students are on pupil premium and a course like this would normally not be possible for us, so to offer this course as an alternative to the usual mix of activities is brilliant. To see the look on their faces when they were out on the water was special.”