The Cornish Pilot Gig Association (CPGA) CIO which is the governing body for the traditional sport of gig racing, today announced that Karen Beswetherick will lead it’s ‘Pulling Together The Past’ project which has been partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Cornish Pilot Gig has played an important role in the working and social lives of communities across Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the south-west for generations. The vessels were used as lifeboats, for salvage, general work, and pilotage. Early records of their use the rescue of the crew of the ‘Royall Oacke’ by a St. Mary’s gig from Bishop Rock Lighthouse in 1666. Cornish Pilot Gigs were also raced in local regattas, often with substantial sums of money awarded to the winners. This ‘Pulling Together The Past’ project is an exciting initiative that, with the help of volunteers, will draw together and share the history of Cornish Pilot Gig rowing in a new online digital archive.
The CPGA interviewed several strong candidates before settling on Karen Beswetherick. Karen will lead the project over the next 18 months, supporting volunteers, attending events with the project exhibition trailer and traveling the south-west collecting heritage items to be added to the archive and published online for all to see and enjoy. She will be working with a team of volunteers to create digital copies of photographs, films, audio recordings and documents that help tell the story of gig rowing from the earliest days to the present day.
Karen is no stranger to gig rowing, she is one of the most accomplished rowers on the circuit, having won the World Pilot Gig Championships in the Isles of Scilly 12 times, and the Newquay County Championships 12 times. She said “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be involved with this project. I am passionate about gig rowing and feel extremely lucky that it has now become my day job! I’m looking forward to meeting with new people and old friends gathering materials to create an archive easily accessible to all.”
The CPGA was set up thirty-two years ago with one simple objective – to oversee and maintain a one class design for the Cornish Pilot Gig. Today, the CPGA supports one of the fastest growing sports in the South West, if not the UK. In 1986 when the Association was established there were 5 clubs. Today the CPGA represents 71 clubs, spread over 10 counties, with over 8,000 rowers who row a fleet of 200+ traditional Cornish Pilot Gigs all built to the lines as the ‘Treffry’ – a Pilot Gig built in 1838 by William Peters of St Mawes, Cornwall.
Chairman of the association, Shane Sullivan said: ”I am delighted to welcome Karen to the post of Project Manager for our ‘Pulling Together The Past’ project. Being one of our most successful rowers Karen is also fully acquainted with the history and heritage of Pilot Gig Rowing. Karen’s appointment, as the first full-time CPGA employee, is a significant milestone for our sport. Once underway the aim is for this project to be a stepping stone for the future projects to raise the profile of our sport and its athletes, I am sure our rowing community will give Karen and those involved their best assistance.”
If you would like to join the project team as a volunteer or have photographs, stories or other heritage to contribute to the archive please contact Karen via firstname.lastname@example.org Karen will start work at the new Redruth project office in June.