The Subscriptions were set based on an emergency budget for the year, which took into account the expected fixed costs to maintain the building, cover insurance, utilities, etc. This had to be balanced against the reduced income expected from hall rentals, functions, events, fundraising etc., also an expected 15% drop in the number of members renewing.

So how are we getting on seven weeks after the Subscriptions Notices went out?
1. We had more folk renew in the first fortnight than in the whole of April last year.
2. 63% of members from last year have renewed to date
3. There has been a large uptake on 200 Club membership, meaning a boost to the prize fund each month
4. The income to date through Subs, donations, boat storage & profit from the 200 Club equates to 98% of the emergency income figure budgeted.

In summary you folks have been astounding.

The membership have demonstrated their support for the Club by adhering to the restrictions placed on them even during some of the best Spring weather in years, but also by paying your Subs quickly.

With the required income guaranteed, the Management Committee can move on with confidence to plan for the re-opening of the Club, as and when this is appropriate.

We are constantly reviewing guidance from the various governing bodies as well as monitoring advice from the relevant maritime agencies. We are also starting to consider operational issues in and about the clubhouse, so that we are prepared for any relaxation of Sottish Government restrictions when the come.

We were quick to close the Club down in March, so want to be ready to re-open in whatever new form as soon as is safe to do so.

At the onset of the lockdown restrictions we sold off to Members, or gave away to local worthy causes, the bar stock that would have gone out-of-date by the end of May. It has come time to repeat this exercise with the stock that will go out-of-date by the end of July. Thankfully there is not a large amount, with the majority being soft drinks or mixers.

To facilitate the sale we have generated a form available from the Hon.Sec. by emailing him on This explains what is available and the cost.

We would encourage you to consider the other items for sale at the same time. These will add some long term value to your purchase and possibly break any boredom you are experiencing. Included in the items available are copies of the two books by Past VP Tom Mackay and the latest version of the mugs with the Club crest on one side and a Club related image on the other.

Whatever selection of items you choose to purchase will be packaged up for your collection in a complimentary holdall from one of our former regatta sponsors, Insight Vacations of Port Glasgow.

VE Day

For the first time ever the Management Committee hade a Virtual Committee meeting on Wednesday night.

A few things came out of the meeting that need to be intimated or re-iterated to the membership.

1. As there are no solid prospects of the suspension of the current social distancing guidelines, we have taken the decision to postpone the AGM for a further month. The revised date is now Thursday 25th June 2020.

2. The clubhouse and grounds remain closed until such time as we are advised by The Scottish Government that it is safe to re-open.

3. All functions or events at the Club are currently cancelled up to 25th June.

4. Guidance from National Governing Bodies of the sports we offer, as well as the Coastguard and Peel Ports, is that the river is not to be used for leisure activities. This is to avoid any chance of burdening the emergency/rescue services at this time.
VP Heather Scott applauded the membership for their continued adherence to this guidance and their acceptance of the current restrictions.

5. A small group of Members is monitoring the clubhouse and grounds on a daily basis, carrying out essential checks and maintenance. This includes opening the shed & balcony doors to air these areas, cutting grass and cleaning. These Members are working in small family groups or individually. Please do not be offended if they decline any offers of assistance you may tender when you see them.

6. In addition to the Club’s monitored alarm system, some of our newer members who live in the new Ogilvies development have been keeping watch over the grounds & beach well. An informal neighbourhood watch. Thanks due to them.

7. Rose Sloan & Joe Heffernan have been working incredibly hard this year with the swift creation and implementation of a new Subscriptions renewal system. The response by the membership has been heartening with 57% of the membership confirming renewal by the end of April. The Subs, boat storage fees & donations raised to date equates to 85% of the income figure required to balance the emergency budget set for this year. There are still 11 months of the Subscriptions year to run, so that is an incredible achievement in a single month.

8. Membership of the 200 Club has also shown a dramatic increase this year. The next draw will be as soon as the Hon. Treasurer Marie Paterson can have someone outside her family group assist in drawing the numbers.

On a general point, the Management Committee would like to thank the membership for their support of the Club at this time. Prompt payment of Subscriptions, offers of assistance/advice as well as simple supportive messages. These all confirm to us how much you folks care for the Club and in turn helps us make sure it is safe & ready when we can use it again.

Stay Safe

Management Committee.

Read about the sections of the virtual row that the Club started this morning.

Day 1
Greenock to Port Bannatyne

Day 2
Port Bannatyne to Kames

Day 3
Kames to Lochranza

You can read about the journey from Gretna and then follow the progress in the coming months at the same website.


Following the statement from the Scottish Government at lunchtime today, it would be highly irresponsible of us as a Club to put any unnecessary strain on the emergency services. This includes providing a location for the virus to be transmitted while taking part in water sports or taking part in activities that may require them to attend to assist in any way (Ambulance, RNLI, Coastguard, etc).

This being the case the Members are advised that forthwith the clubhouse, beach and grounds are NOT to be used for any form of gathering. Neither are they to be used to enter or exit the water in any craft or swimming.

It has probably been over 75 years since the Club requested this of the Members, back when the clubhouse was requisitioned by the Admiralty during World War 2. It is therefore not without precedent that we ask this of you.

In our archives is a photo of the clubhouse and Members celebrating the end of the South African Wars (1899-1902). When we come out the other side of this battle we should gather in the style of that and record it for posterity.

John McCann, a long-time member of Royal West, died peacefully in Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, aged 84, on 23 March following a short illness. As with all deaths at this time, his funeral was attended only by a few – his wife, Brenda, his two daughters, Jane and Elizabeth and their husbands. Brenda has intimated that, at a suitable date, there will be a celebration of John’s life where his other relatives and many, many friends can join together to give thanks for knowing this remarkable warm-hearted gentleman.

John was a local lad being brought up in the Strone of which he was proud (he used to style himself in his teaching days as “McCann of the Strone”). Born in August 1935, he made his way in the world by sheer hard work, sharp intelligence and a cheery disposition. His career path took him into teaching at which he excelled. In his early student days he supplemented his grant by working during the summer holidays – a spell as a galley boy on the “Jeannie Deans”, constructing oil storage tanks at Faslane and working in farms in the countryside behind Greenock.

Following Jordanhill where he trained to be a “Techie” teacher his first school was St. Mirren’s Academy, Paisley, but with call-up he found himself in the RAF which proved to be of great significance in his life. On the first night in uniform at RAF Cardington, Bedfordshire for training, he attended a dance where he met Brenda, and the rest is the story of their life together; marriage and family came along and living in a bungalow at Gray Street, at the top of Bawhirley Road.

John’s teaching career went down the mathematics route and for seven years he taught at John Neilson Institution, Paisley where he worked under two outstanding Principal Teachers, Andrew Alan and then Alec Young, both of whom went on to become Head Teachers, in Mr. Young’s case at Port Glasgow High. John’s teaching path took him to Port High where he led the Maths department with the vigour and diligence characteristic of him. His influence on his pupils produced excellent results. Fond memories of “Genghis McCann” for both his teaching and his skill in dealing with his pupils come from the Graham family. Recognition of his qualities took him to the post of Assistant Head Teacher in Grove Park School, Greenock where he remained until 1987.

Rationalisation of the provision of secondary education in Inverclyde led to the amalgamation of Cowdenknowes and Grove Park to form Wellington Academy. John was offered early retiral and, as Brenda recalls, he says he thought about it for all of two minutes and accepted. In following years John did some supply teaching, including a spell at Gourock High where, I heard from one admirer of John’ s, that her daughter had said that he was the best teacher she’d ever had.

In preparing this I spoke to Billy Paul who worked with John in Grove Park. Billy and John formed a great team and Billy expressed the greatest admiration for John – “great to work with”, “a joy to be in his company”, “warm-hearted”, “very professional”, “nobody messed with John”, “old blue-eyes”. I can add my tribute, when as a young teacher, John would give me a lift to and from JNI where I started my career. He and Brenda also arranged for me to make some extra money by tutoring.

Apart from Brenda and his family, John’s great loves were sailing and playing the fiddle. He first got into dinghy sailing back in his RAF days when he crewed in the finals of the RAF championships at Coats Water near Swindon. Brenda recalls that following one regatta he and his mates got gloriously drunk and he fell down the stairs into the pub’s cellar. The landlord dusted off his uniform with the dartboard duster!

John had caught the sailing bug and he pursued this at Royal West and in the Renfrewshire Schools Sailing Scheme based at the club when, under Andy Harvie, he was one of the instructors. When the family moved to Kilbarchan John built his own dinghy. With his woodworking skills this was no problem for John and to complete the work he varnished the mast, balancing one end on Brenda’s cut-crystal salad bowl, which to this day still bears the varnish mark on its silver rim. At Royal West John took part in the racing and, according to Brenda, in recruiting a crew member, he would announce “crew member required, need not have sailed before”.

In his time at Royal West John had three keel boats, all moored off the club. The second, a 21 foot Jaguar, was driven ashore and wrecked in a great storm. The final one, a Sadler named “Lyonnesse”, purchased in the 80’s, was John’s pride and joy for 30 years. Tuesdays saw John and pals, including Bob Hughes, Ted Kelly and Jim Kerridge set off in “Lyonnesse” to Kilcreggan on a “Bass Special” weekly outing.

John and Brenda, often in the company of Allan McDougall, another of John’s teaching pals and one-time Rector of Greenock Academy, would sail the west coast. We once met this group when we kayaked into Arinagour, Coll and shared a hearty meal with them that evening. During his retiral years he and Brenda spent many happy years both sailing and visiting foreign lands, often in cruise ships.

John’s other great love was playing the fiddle and for many years he entertained at the Boat Club Burns Suppers and was in great demand to play at ceilidhs, etc. in Brookfield where he lived for forty two years. He continued to play and for several years was an active member of Bearsden Fiddlers. When John and Allan arrived at a port on a sailing expedition in the Western Isles they would make for a pub and entertain the punters with their lively fiddle music.

While John’s funeral was as demanded by the circumstances we find ourselves in during these dark times, it was not without music. Recordings of “The Lords My Shepherd” and “The Dark Island” were played and, in a wonderful touch, the recessional music was that beautiful violin piece “Ashokan’s Farewell” played by Bearsden Fiddlers, with John playing at his own funeral. Brenda’s comment: “John McCann, Live at the Crem”

Hugh Kerr

The Royal West Club House is currently closed due to lock down associated with COVID-19. Therefore, the tradition of paper forms to collect information about Members is nearly impossible to implement. Therefore, the Committee has set up an on-line form to collect information from you. If you are currently a Member of RWSABC, you should have received an email on the morning of Tuesday 31 March. This email contains a link to the on-line form.

We know that everyone is under pressure in these exceptional times. Some of us will be experiencing financial problems. The Royal West understands, and we will be sympathetic and supportive. We also know that the Royal West is resilient, and we are going to be around, stronger and better, when this trial has passed. Life will go on.

As life will go on, we hope you will remain part of the Royal West family. Unlike most families we need to ask you to reapply each year.

If you can’t find or accidentally deleted or have changed email address or just want to get the email again, please send an email to our Subscriptions Convener and she will forward you the email with the link to the on-line form.

The email address of the Subscriptions Convener is

The Committee requests that you pay your fees this year. If enough people were to decide that they will not pay fees until things are back to normal, then much of the success we have recently experienced will be undone.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete your 2020/2021 Subscription Form. Once the current situation has passed we are going to celebrate so loud they’ll hear us in Helensburgh.

We hope you and yours are keeping well.


RWSABC Committee

The past year has been a pleasantly busy one at the Club, and looking after the Clubhouse has been no exception.

Keeping any 150-year-old building in running order means there’s always a list of on-going maintenance, from simply replacing bulbs and locks to fixing plumbing or roof leaks. The Club has always depended on the goodwill of members to lend the occasional hand, and this past year more of you than ever have risen to the challenge.

So, firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who’s helped out over the past year. It’s been really great to see the time and expertise that so many people have contributed. Lots of things simply wouldn’t have been possible otherwise!

As well as individual contributions, we organised a number of work parties over the year. These were all well attended and also really good fun. (Combining these with a BBQ and refreshments seemed to be a particularly popular idea that we’ll be continuing!)

Some of the things we’ve achieved with the help of members:
1). Kayak Store: this was emptied of boats so the back wall could be reinforced and relined- the wall had been badly damaged from boats piercing it (right through to the boiler room beyond).
2). Painting: The boathouse doors were painted. The entire balcony and front stairs were re-painted. The balcony timbers were re-stained. The metal handrails on the ramps were repainted, as were the handrails and balustrade at the front entrance. Hopefully you’ll agree the finishing touches of bunting and flowers (thanks Rose Sloan!) have made the front of the club look much more attractive.
3). Beach wall: we’ve made a great start on repairs the sloping beach wall. It’s still work in progress, but this major task was long overdue. With the help of our volunteers we’ll complete this for a fraction of the quoted cost, and it’ll further improve the look of the beach frontage.
4). Defibrillator: thanks to the fund-raising efforts of members and donations from Jayden’s Rainbow and Cardwell Bay Community Council, our publicly accessible defibrillator has been installed on the front of the building. We think this is a great community asset and it’s generated lots of positive feedback both from Club members and the general public.
5). New winch post: This was installed outside the new boathouse to allow for heavier craft to be winched up the slipway.
6). Spring Cleaning: As the Club gets busier, storage space is at a premium. As a result, we’ve managed to clear quite a lot of unused junk from all the downstairs storage areas. Some of it dated to the 1960’s and earlier! There’s still more to be done though.

We brought in outside contractors last year to repair roof leaks and install power for the defibrillator, but otherwise most jobs have been tackled under our own steam!


We’re actively doing what we can to reduce the environmental impact of the Club. So, over the past year we’ve:
• Replaced our plastic straws with recyclable paper ones. We’re trying to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics generally and cut down on our waste. Reducing our use of paper plates, cups and disposable cutlery are next on the agenda.
• Introduced a recycling collection for our waste. Special thanks are due to the bar staff for the extra effort this involves.
• Started insulating the roof-space areas. There’s no insulation anywhere in the building, and we intend to tackle this as funds allow. Overall, it’ll reduce running costs as well as our carbon footprint.
• Started a programme of replacing all our lightbulbs with low-energy fittings.

Stuart Barr is also organising more regular beach tidies to keep our foreshore clean. We’ll also be putting more litter bins around the grounds of the club. If you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

Testing, Testing, Testing

These routine things have to be done to keep us safe and legal every year. This list includes arranging annual inspections, tests and maintenance of fire and security systems, electrical equipment, gas appliances, fire-fighting equipment, emergency lighting etc. All these tasks, which have to be carried out by specialists, are currently up-to-date, and are part of our annual running overheads.

Our Fire Risk Assessment, which is required by law, has been re-evaluated and updated over the past year. As an additional safety measure, we invited our local Fire Prevention Officers to inspect the Club buildings. They were happy that the club has a higher than required standard of safety features.

We’ve also added some extra fire-fighting equipment in the kayak store (water extinguisher) and the boathouse on the beach (CO2 extinguisher).

It’s worth sparing a thought for our Office-Bearers here; because our alarm systems are remotely monitored, it’s not unknown for them to get called out in the wee small hours to investigate false alarms going off!

Tasks for this Season (2020)

Obviously, none of us know quite how things will develop this year, but there’s a list of some jobs in the pipeline for when the club re-opens. These include:

Repair Shed:
This roof was due to be stripped and re-slated in the coming weeks, As this would have been a reasonable amount of expenditure we’ve decided it prudent to put this on hold temporarily. This roof has been leaking for some time now: it’s long overdue a refurbishment and the ‘sticking plaster’ approach of patch repairs is proving to be false economy.

The main hall lights were about to be upgraded and various other broken/obsolete fittings replaced with new low energy LED lamps. Similarly, we’ve decided to put this on hold temporarily until we see how this year’s finances work out.

Front entrance:
We’d like to get some hanging baskets put up at the entrance. Rose Sloan does a fantastic job in planting and maintaining the flower baskets on the balcony, and it really improves the look of the place.

Beach Wall:
Finishing the repairs here will be one of the major, but very worthwhile jobs come the better weather.

There’s a new whiteboard to be mounted in the main boatshed. It will list any small tasks that can be tackled by members with some time to spare. Any help you can give will be most appreciated.

Back wall:
The back wall of the club takes the brunt of the weather, especially over the winter months. This year was particularly wet and windy, resulting in numerous water leaks in the gent’s changing rooms. We hope to get a scaffold put up and a proper waterproof coating applied before next winter. Paint brushes at the ready folks!

Outside doors and window frames are on the ‘to-do’ list for this year. Timber and hinge repairs to the boatshed doors are also on the list.

Of course, there are many other improvements we’d like to make around the club. Due to the current circumstances we’ll leave setting out our priorities until we see what the coming months bring.

We’re always keen to hear your suggestions for improvements. Similarly, if you spot something that needs fixed around the buildings please let us know.

In the meantime, we hope you stay safe and look forward to seeing you all later in the season!

Allan Downie
House Convenor

I would like to think that 2019 was the year in which we continued with the development and growth of the kayaking section started in previous years and before I became involved.

2019 started with the normal pool sessions at the Waterfront Leisure Complex. As always, they were well attended and greatly benefitted those who participated.

We moved back to the Boat Club and the River Clyde after the Opening Cruise. Unfortunately we were beset with poor weather and this got us off to a bumpy start, with several sessions having to be cancelled at the last minute. The weather eventually settled down and we continued with the regular Monday and Tuesday evening training.

Having a very consistent number of paddlers on a training night, it was decided 2019 was the year for increasing skill level.


A Foundation Safety & Rescue Training course was held. This course was extremely successful and beneficial, so much so we held a further 2 courses, up-skilling 17 paddlers.

We have 74 paddlers registered on the Scottish Canoe Association database. This obviously “pinged up” on somebody’s email and as a result the Royal West was asked to host a Coaching Matters training day. This is where any qualified coach in the Scottish Region is invited to attend and learn about latest best practice and development on kayak coaching. This was attended by 5 Royal West coaches. It allowed 3 of our 4 coaches to maintain their “active” status and more importantly 2 of our “expired” coaches to revalidate to “active”.

To continue the up-skilling theme, we held a 2-day First Aid course specially tailored to water sport. This course also proved very popular and so we held another.

Now, there is no good being a skilled paddler if you cannot understand how to get between 2 locations on the water. To overcome this it was decided to hold a Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning Course. Situation normal – this course proved to be so popular we had to hold a further two.

With so many paddlers out on the water and having to cross busy shipping and ferry lanes, communication is important, especially if you need to summon assistance in a hurry. A number of paddlers sat the VHF Radio course. This course was run by the Greenock Sea Cadets. This course is in 2 parts – lecture and practical. We only held one lecture session – but due to the number of paddlers we had to hold the practical session over two evenings.

The Foundation Safety & Rescue Training course covers the safety and rescue from various types of kayak & canoe and paddle board. Although we are primarily a sea kayaking club, many paddlers are involved in other disciplines particularly when they are on holiday or away from home. We may also come across other people in difficultly when we are out on the water. Matt and Colin, two of our coaches, are now qualified as FSRT Providers allowing us to carry out in-house training at the Club. To gain the FSRT Provider certificate Matt & Colin had to gain Awards in Open Canoeing and Stand-up Paddle Boards.

Going back to the needs of the members – a one day FSRT day does not make the standard paddler highly proficient in providing safety cover and carrying out rescues. I am hoping that with Colin’s and Matt’s guidance I would like to think very soon every member of the kayaking section would be extremely proficient in safety and rescue work.

Upgrading Facilities

With the new Boathouse, the opportunity was taken to improve the storage of kayaks. We refurbished the Kayak Shed fitting plastic covers to metal scaffold tubing. Additional racking was built in the Boathouse and the racking in the Main Shed was replaced.

The profile of the fleet has also changed. We purchased 2 Surfski’s and 2 paddle boards. The paddle boards are needed for the FSRT course. A fact about the surfskis – they are the most signed out boats, of any boat, and both have covered over 1000 miles each since being launched. I will qualify that by saying most of the 1000 miles have been covered by 2 paddlers.

Wheels to Water

A special mention to Tom Kater who represented the Royal West by helping at the Disability Scotland event “Wheels to Water” at Castle Semple.

Tail o’ the Bank

We had hoped that the surfskis would encourage competitors in the Tail o’ the Bank – this being an annual racing event held at the Royal West. 2019 was the 4th consecutive year since the race was reintroduced. The 2019 race was carnage due to the weather, but a good day for action filled photographs and for a number of paddlers from the Royal West regarding medal wins. Colin Campbell was 1st in the Sea Kayak Men 10 mile and Mark Hanson and Mark Gallacher were 1st and 2nd in the Sea Kayak Men 4 mile. As an aside, Colin also won the Cumbrae Sea Kayak race having won it previously the last time he entered in 1975 as a junior.

The Greenock Sea Cadets provided rescue boat safety cover for the Clyde swim and the Tail o’ the Bank. I don’t think we could run these events without their help.

Pool Sessions 2020

This year, the winter pool sessions started off sharing the pool with the scouts and sea cadets in a single session. In the space of 3 weeks, this has escalated to 3 – 1 hour sessions per week for each individual group. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Inverclyde Council and the Waterfront staff for all their help.

Winter Talks

I thought that the Winter Talks had peaked last year, even although we didn’t have the favourite (should that be infamous?) “cooking night” I am pleased to report that the talks this year have been just as good, if not better. Thanks to Paul and Tom for all the organisation.

What’s happening 2020 (Provided Covid-19 restrictions are lifted)

The kayaking section is aiming to continue with the roll out the courses held last year. These will be aimed at members who missed the early courses and especially new members.

We hope to add a number of Personal Performance Awards to the portfolio, in particular sea kayaking, open canoeing and perhaps SUP.

This year we must aim to hold more Club Trips having only managed the Erskine Bridge last year. Several organised trips had to be cancelled last year due to weather conditions, although we did complete many informal trips from the Club. We have already started to address this with Ewen Chisholm arranging a paddle from the Erskine Bridge to the centre of Paisley.

Hopefully we can tie in with Visit Scotland’s campaign “Year of Coasts and Waters 2020”. One suggestion is holding a day trip from the Boat Club where we can showcase our local attractions – leaving from the Esplanade, going to Rosneath Point, view of the Arrochar Alps, Sugar Boat, Newark up at Port Glasgow and back down past a number of historical landmarks.

We would like to continue to work with the scouts, sea cadets and any other like-minded interested group and especially individuals in promoting water sport for everyone.


Finally, on a personal note, I would like to thank – Club management, especially the coaches, helpers and members who came along on a regular basis and supported all aspects, and especially kayaking, at the Royal West Boat Club.

William Bell
Kayaking Convenor

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