SYRPG Stand at the International Canoe Exhibition February 2001

SYRPG Stand at the International Canoe Exhibition February 2001

Buying the Rapids

The Threat that started it all

In late 1996 the previous landowners were considering how they could earn money from the Rapids - one of their more favoured options being to dredge them to make them more suitable for fishing. They approached the British Canoe Union (BCU) in Nottingham and offered to lease them the use of the Rapids for 7,000 per annum for the next 3 years.

A crisis meeting of about 50 local paddlers was called to discuss how the BCU should respond. It was the unanimous opinion of those present that taking up the lease was impractical because of the free navigation rights. Raising the money would also have been very difficult and after 3 years there would be nothing to show for it.

However it was agreed by everyone present that it would be in the interests of the sport generally if the Rapids could be bought and preserved in perpetuity for the use of canoeists. To achieve this the Symonds Yat Rapids Preservation Group (SYRPG) was formed made up of senior paddlers from several local Canoe Clubs, the BCU and the WCA.

The Launch of the Original National Appeal

The initial estimate of the cost to buy the Rapids, stabilise them and to set up an endowment fund to pay for their ongoing maintenance was 250,000. A National Lottery Sports Fund bid was lodged and a national appeal launched to raise the vital partnership funding required for the bid to be successful.

The national appeal was launched with a raffle at the International Canoe Exhibition held at the NEC in Birmingham at the end of February 1998. The objectives of the appeal were not to create a new facility but to protect and improve an existing one. Requests for donations and letters of support went out to clubs and companies throughout the country. The appeal featured regularly in the canoeing press and was reported on by local television as well as in a number of local newspapers.

The Purchase of the Rapids

The appeal eventually raised in excess of 50,000 and in March 2003 the Environment Agency contributed 50,000 and the BCU Maurice Rothwell Trust a further 25,000 to enable the Option to Purchase negotiated with previous owners to be exercised. Canoeists now own the River Wye from the upstream limit of the fishery to 304 metres downstream from the head of the island (including the double bank fishing rights along this section river). The purchase of the Rapids was announced at the 2003 International Canoe Exhibition at the NEC and was reported on BBC Midlands.

However during the 5 years of the appeal there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes in addition to fund raising...