As the summer holidays get underway, the River Tay Community Sports Hub (RTCSH) are keen to highlight the opportunities available to people to use the longest river in Scotland as a place to exercise and play. However, tragically there are always fatalities in open water, particularly in summer and the Hub has created an essential resource to inform and educate users on the dangers of using rivers.

The collective includes Perth Harbour, Willowgate Activity Centre, Sea Cadets and clubs and is facilitated by a dedicated Sports Development Officer from Live Active Leisure, and its aim is to bring together sports clubs and community organisations who want to develop and grow the sporting offer on and around the River Tay.

Gemma Simpson, Sports Development Officer explained about the River Tay Hub.

“The River Tay Community Sports Hub has delivered some excellent resources locally, and we have been delighted to support their work. Community Sports Hubs are a sportscotland flagship programme aiming to empower community leaders, foster community collaboration and meet community needs and we believe that this Hub is an excellent example of this. The development of the Hub's website will help local people, as well as visitors to the area to use the river safely during watersports activities. We also hope it will drive local people towards the many watersports clubs that we are fortunate to have across Perthshire."

The RTCSH has worked on a number of safety features as a group since its inception, including the purchase of radios for group members to communicate with the harbour, installing a defibrillator at Willowgate Activity Centre and contributing to the harbour’s code of practice for water users as well as now launching which is funded by the River Tay Hub and hosting sponsored by CalMac Ferries Ltd, who operate Perth Harbour.

Regional Harbour Manager for CalMac Ferries Ltd Michael Blacklaw added:

“As the River Tay becomes a more popular destination for people to enjoy, it’s more important than ever to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every person both on and by the river. We were delighted to include the Hub in the Harbour’s Code of Practice, to better represent all the users of the river. In addition, CalMac Ferries Ltd has committed to sponsor the hosting of the Hub website, which we believe is a valuable resource for the residents, visitors and businesses of Perth.”

The website is for recreational water users to find out more about the river’s history, as well as a signpost to clubs and organisations that use the river for their activities. The hub also recognises that some people won’t always wish to join a club, so key safety information is included for activities that have become popular since the pandemic, such as outdoor swimming, stand up paddleboarding and jet skiing.

Adam Burns, Centre Manager for Willowgate Activity Centre told us:

It's great to see so many people using the River Tay in so many different ways, the hub was formed to support communication between clubs and organisations and create stronger safety messaging for all users of the river. We want everyone to have an amazing summer so I can't stress enough please get in touch if you need information or support to get on the water safely.”

All users of the River Tay, whether in a club environment or with friends and family on a warm day are urged to take a little time to use the website to find out what’s available and to learn the key water safety rules to stay safe this summer.

The key message of the Hub in this hot weather for everyone wishing to use the river is quite simple and could save lives. Assess dangers before going in, to not go in alone, and always let someone know where you are going and when you think you will be back. If you fall in unexpectedly, you may experience cold water shock. If this happens, fight your instinct to swim. Relax and float on your back until you can control your breathing and the shock passes. Then you can call for help.

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