Arson appeal gets Olympian approval

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ROWING legend Matthew Pinsent has lent his support to a campaign to save a Yorkshire rowing club after its boathouse was destroyed in an arson attack.

Hull Rowing Club’s boathouse on the River Hull was gutted in the fire last September, although most of the boats were able to be repaired.

The club needs to raise as much as £3,000 to restore the building.

Members of Hull University’s Boat Club – who use the boathouse – are hosting a sponsored 24-hour row on machines at the university on February 22, when they hope to raise £1,000.

Mr Pinsent tweeted a link to the event and said: “Rowing types – surely we can get Hull to a grand?”

Boat club president Dan Reynolds said: “It’s great support for the club because we are fairly small and don’t have many resources. For someone like that to recognise the club is fantastic.”

Mr Reynolds said Andy Hodge, another Olympic rowing hero, had also urged people to support the event.

Rowing club chairman Tim Hirst said: “Since the arson attack we have been struggling to get back on our feet and get things back together.

“Fortunately none of the boats were damaged beyond repair but the building suffered quite a lot and the club rooms were gutted.”

The club is also responding to a huge rise in interest the sport since the triumphs of British rowers in the London Olympics.

Mr Hirst said: “We’ve got a lot of new members on the back of the Olympics and we have put 23 people through our learn-to-row courses at East Park.”

He added: “For someone in Matthew Pinsent’s position to point out the struggles we’ve got goes a long way for us. It’s nice to have someone like that on board.”

Mr Pinsent, 42, won 10 world championship gold medals and four consecutive Olympic gold medals, three of which were with Sir Steve Redgrave.

He is now working regularly for the BBC as a sports journalist and took part in coverage of the 2012 Games in London.