A very special racing boat will now be sailing on the River Tyne after it was officially named and launched at Gateshead Community Rowing Club.
Help for Heroes funded the Para Single Scull racing boat, specially designed for people with disabilities at the club to use.
Ten-year-old Rebecca Moyse won a regional competition for children of Help for Heroes Band of Brothers/Band of Sisters to name the boat.
Her winning name Spirit of the Tyne was chosen by veteran and Indoor Rowing Champion gold medallist Brian Forbes.
He said: “She could not have picked a better name for the boat. It’s so apt as it implies both a fighting spirit but there is also a connection with the North East.”
Brian will train on the boat with the aim of taking part in para competitions next year.
The 51-year-old served in the TA from 1984 - 1990, when he joined the Queen’s Royal Hussars for a tour of Cyprus. He then rejoined the TA until 2004.
Brian, who worked as a diesel fitter, was injured at work in 2004, damaging the discs in his back. He suffers with depression as he has not been able to work since 2007.
He said: “As soon as I get out on the water, I just love it. I feel like I could row all day.
“I really appreciate Help for Heroes funding the boat. Everyone says that since I started rowing, I have become like my old self again and am more confident and outgoing. I still have my bad days when I am withdrawn but some days I’m really good and my family say it’s down to rowing and I cannot thank Help for Heroes enough.”
Gateshead Community Rowing Club was formed by veterans enrolled on the Row2Recovery programme, administered by British Rowing and Help for Heroes. A qualified coach runs regular specialist adaptive rowing sessions.
Mick Downworth,one of the founding members of Gateshead Community Rowing Club, said: “Getting the para single sculling boat means that with British Rowing we can train Brian and other guys to compete at local and national level competitions and enjoy rowing even more.
“We have our adapted sea going St Ayles Skiff, which was funded by the Row2Recovery project in participation with Help for Heroes and British Rowing, and this boat will open a whole new dimension. It’s fantastic news.”
Martin Colclough,Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “Help for Heroes is proud to be funding a para single scull to support Gateshead Rowing Club’s veteran community.
“Our organisations are proudly working together because we understand the value of sport in the recovery process.
“We know that sport can help an individual feel physically empowered and in control, it can rebuild self-confidence and self-belief and it can help an individual find a sense of purpose. We would like to thank the public for enabling us to provide this support.”