A CHARITY rowing club can buy new boats to stay afloat thanks to a £15,000 donation.

Hinksey Sculling School will be able to replace oars and old wooden boats – some of which date back 20 years – with the money.

It was given the donation last week by Henley-on-Thames investment management company Invesco Perpetual.

Director of rowing Amelia Wright, who lives in West Oxford, said: “Rowing boats are very expensive and it takes a long, long time for us to save up to buy anything.

“Without it we would have had a very difficult year ahead. It means we can plan our next year with the money so we will be buying equipment that every child will benefit from.”

About 120 children row at the club – which trains children first at Hinksey Lake, but is mainly based at St Edward’s School boathouse in Godstow.

Some of the club’s boats are old and made of wood –- whereas modern boats are made of carbon fibre or fibreglass.

The club does not buy the most expensive equipment, but a single boat for one rower still costs between £2,500 to £3,000, while doubles cost about £6,500 and quads cost £10,000.

A set of oars for one rower costs £500.

Mrs Wright added: “It is huge money – it’s crazy really – but rowing historically has been an elitist sport and at Hinksey the aim is to bring rowing into the community and offer it to those who wouldn’t usually be able to choose it. If a family can’t afford to pay for them we wouldn’t turn them away.”

Mrs Wright started rowing when she was nine and has been involved in the club for more than 10 years.

Mark Armour, CEO of Invesco Perpetual, said: “Hinksey’s commitment gives children from all backgrounds the opportunity to participate in rowing and to build the skills and confidence that will allow them to go on to realise their potential both in sport and everyday life. We hope that our contribution will allow Hinksey Sculling School to offer even more children this opportunity.”