Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford rowing gala gets under way

The largest rowing event to be staged in Bedford since the 1860s has begun along the Great Ouse river.

Bedford Rowing Club said 440 crews would be taking part in 2,000m (1.2 mile) time trials along the river, near Queens Park, from 09:15 to 17:00 BST.

The club said it was inspired by the London 2012 Games to put on the event, which it had been planning for a number of years.

It said it hoped Sunday's gala would help to promote the town.

Rowing races have taken place in Bedford for centuries, but the club's president John Mingay said he was overwhelmed by the response of clubs wanting to take part, having to turn more than 100 away.

"We had 70 crews in just one day apply after we'd closed, and many local clubs that normally attend have been unlucky," he said.

Mr Mingay said veterans and people as young as 14 would be taking part during the day, with many competing for the first time due to the race being held at the start of the rowing season.

He added many disabled people would also be racing, after the club had received a grant by British Rowing and other organisations to buy adapted boats.

"It brings people into the town, it promotes the town and we're looking forward to hopefully the opening of a rowing course in Willington in years to come," he said.

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