Transatlantic rower Jessica Oliver has become the first ambassador to be appointed by Cotswold Lakes Trust.

Jessica, 29, and her partner Charlotte Harris smashed the world record for women pairs in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge in February.

Having never rowed before, they entered the 3,000-mile race and, in six gruelling weeks, beat the opposition and the world record by a staggering five days.

Cotswold Lakes Trust is a charity working to conserve and enhance Cotswold Water Park.

When executive chairman Paul Hazel heard the two rowers talking about the race on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, he decided to ask Jessica to support the Trust.

Cotswold Lakes Trust’s executive chairman Paul Hazel with new ambassador, Atlantic rower Jessica Oliver

Cotswold Lakes Trust’s executive chairman Paul Hazel with new ambassador, Atlantic rower Jessica Oliver

“Her energy and spirit are just what we need,” he said.

The Trust has just launched a £1.5 million appeal to help protect the park for future generations.

This includes the development of Cleveland Lakes near Somerford Keynes as a major centre for rowing, canoeing and paddle-boarding.

Jessica, from Dowdeswell, said: “I didn’t know how to row when we took up the transatlantic challenge – my mother was horrified.

"But if Cleveland Lakes had been a rowing centre when I was training, it would have been enormously helpful,” she said.

Much of her two-year training with Charlotte involved travelling to Essex and Scotland.

“Apart from the Cleveland Lakes project, the themes of Cotswold Lakes Trust – education, recreation and conservation – are all things that I’m really keen to support,” she added.

Paul was delighted to welcome her on board. “As our Ambassador, Jessica will help promote the water sports project at Cleveland Lakes.

"She is very keen to encourage participation by school children and the creation of a family-friendly canoe safari at the Lakes.

"When the overall project is complete, Cleveland Lakes will be en exemplar of how nature and people can exist in harmony for the benefit of both.”

Cotswold Lakes Trust has no core funding and relies on donations and income from commercial activities. The charity hopes to reach its £1.5m target in five years.

The funds will go towards four projects: Transforming a disused section of the old railway line at South Cerney into a wildlife habitat and route for walkers and cyclists, developing a new 15km off-road cycle route and new on-road cycle routes, creating a training and competition venue for rowing, canoeing and paddle-boarding at Cleveland Lakes and delivering educational programmes with the help of a new ‘Beaver Bus’ mobile roadshow.

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