A Bury veterinary nurse has been training for the upcoming International Rafting Federation’s European Championships.

Sarah-Jayne Evans, also known as SJ, lives in Rossendale and had her first taste of the sport when she competed in a raft race with friends at a fundraising event.

After discovering she has a talent for the sport, she signed up to local club Red Rose Rafting in Bacup, and her abilities navigating white waters has led to her being called up by the national team.

SJ, who works at Armac Vets in Bury, said: “We had a great time and somehow managed to win the race.

"We were hooked and three of us who were in the original group are still competing together as the Red Rose team.

“As there is no ‘white water’ in the local area, training involves travelling to the River Dee in Llangollen or the River Tryweryn in Wales, or to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham and other centres around the country.

"We also do a lot of personal fitness in the gym.”

Bury Times:

SJ Evans, front right, with the Red Rose Rafting team, pictured competing in the World Rafting Championships in Australia in 2019. Photo: International Rafting Federation

SJ will be competing at the event in the Czech Republic from Monday, August 21, with her team Red Rose Rafting, which qualified in the British Raft Racing Selection in March to secure its place.

Red Rose Rafting, based in Bacup, will represent Great Britain in both the R6 (squad of seven) and R4 (squad of five) categories.

The team will be competing in four elements - the Sprint, Head to Head, Slalom and Downriver Endurance race – with the aim of gaining the maximum points possible in each category to ensure a winning overall score.

Team members work to their individual strengths for each race, with SJ usually on one of the raft’s front corners to set the pace and initiate the turns.

The white-water rafters are hoping to raise £3,000 through donations and fundraising events, such as cake sales and raffles, to help with the costs of travel, accommodation and competition registration. 

As well as pursuing her sporting ambitions, SJ is also fulfilling her childhood dream as a key member of the team at Armac Vets, where she is a veterinary nurse.

SJ works at its main practice at The Rock, looking after pets brought in for routine treatment, as well as seriously-ill animals who need the specialist care and equipment that is available at the veterinary hospital.

She added: “I have always wanted to be a veterinary nurse.

"My whole route through school, college and university was towards my goal of becoming a veterinary nurse. I have worked at Armac since 2006 and love it.

“My colleagues at Armac Vets have always been very supportive of me, ensuring I have the time I need to compete with Red Rose and checking on my progress, which I really appreciate.”

Bury Times:

Marcus Cronin, clinical director at Armac Vets, said: “SJ is one of our dedicated veterinary nurses who has been part of the team at Armac Vets for many years.

"It’s incredible what she has achieved with Red Rose Rafting alongside her busy role here, and we’re all really proud of her.

"We wish SJ and the team all the very best in the Championships and will be cheering them on.”

Red Rose Rafting was set up in 2009, taking part in events throughout the UK and world, including Australia, Tibet, and Slovakia, and now the Czech Republic.

To support SJ and the team, you can donate here.