Shropshire's largest sailing club returns to the water following lockdown ease
Shropshire's largest sailing club has made a "cautious" return to the water for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was initiated.
Although many of the facilities at Chelmarsh Sailing Club are yet to open, including the bar and changing rooms, it has initially welcomed back members.
Despite being out on the open water, the organisation near Bridgnorth has implemented a number of precautions to ensure the safety of its sailors.
Dave Partridge, club member of more than 10 years, said: "There has been a great group of people working on the return to sailing and stand up paddle boarding – they have produced detailed procedures and advice, these have also been approved by the whole committee.
"The return is a cautious one and if successful and as government and industry rules allow, we will gradually expand activities.
"As sailors, we understand that every cloud has a silver lining, and in a funny way the coronavirus has helped us work together to ensure we can keep Chelmarsh a supportive, vibrant and successful club.
"The smiles on everyone's faces after a few hours back at the club say it all."
The club, which includes leisurely dinghy sailing, dinghy racing and stand up paddle boarding, is operating its sailing two days a week, with members booking slots in advance.
Dave added: "A huge thank you must go to all members who have understood and stayed with us through these difficult times and to all those who have supported our efforts in preparing the return.
"We will have a reduced membership rate for all loyal members for next year reflecting the time we have lost from the water."
The work to get the club back in the water included detailed health and safety reviews, risk registers and working groups looking at the club's operation and how it needed to adapt and change.
"The results have been amazing," said David.
"Members have returned to the water and enjoyed sport and recreation. People openly discuss how their mental health has suffered and the benefits of exercise and socially distanced camaraderie and discussion.
"Thinking where the wind is coming from or how you can set your sails, how to harness natural energy, and time to enjoy stunning countryside all quickly help reground and stabilise you."
Chelmarsh Sailing Club is a 200 member organisation founded in 1965 with a long tradition of encouraging the development of sailing and recently introduced stand up paddle boarding.
Members enjoy a 100 acre reservoir with a clubhouse, training courses, racing events and social activities.