New steps which will support increased access to watersports on the River Ayr have been officially opened by a former Olympic gold medallist.

South Ayrshire Council's Thriving Communities team held an event to mark the occasion on Sunday, March 17, in partnership with Scottish Rowing, Kyle Kayak Club and The Outdoor Partnership. 

Dame Katherine Grainger, current Chair of Sport UK, attended to show her support and promote the opportunities that the facility will bring to the area.

Dame Katherine won rowing gold at the 2012 Games in London, as well as silver in Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016, and is also a six-time world champion.

The event was also attended by councillors and local groups, who were able to take part in a range of activities.  

The event also served to name the St Ayles Skiff Coastal Rowing boat, officially named 'Selkirk Grace', built by local volunteers, The Outdoor Partnership and Ayr Academy pupils.

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The access steps will increase opportunities for local people to participate in rowing, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

Those set to benefit from the new facility include a community programme on the River Ayr run by Scottish Rowing; care experienced groups and young carers from Ayr, Kyle and Belmont Academies, school and community groups supported by the Council's outdoor learning team; the Outdoor Partnership and Kyle Kayak Club.

The secure facility will operate seasonally and will be maintained by Ayrshire Roads Alliance, with access managed by South Ayrshire Council.

Councillor Brian Connolly, South Ayrshire Council's portfolio holder for sport and leisure, said: "This is great news for the local area, and will ensure that many more people in our communities can take part in a wide range of water-based activities.

"It's also another fantastic asset to add to our existing sport and leisure portfolio, and I'd like to thank everyone involved for their hard work on this project.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the River Ayr bustling with activity over the summer months."