. On the occasion of a visit by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
The visit marks the contribution of the Club and the Café to the revitalisation of Portobello Promenade over the last six years. It is also a tribute to the people and associations who have made the Club the vibrant community that it is today.
Ten years ago Jonathan Bendit decided that it was time that Portobello should have a little of its former glory restored. He had a vision: an aspiration that the Promenade should be revitalised. He envisaged a Portobello in which people could make the most of, and sail from, its beautiful beach; that there would be an armada of boats and sails on the horizon and a café where you could get a decent cup of coffee. A keen sailor, he wanted everyone to experience being out on the water. With his infectious enthusiasm, resourcefulness and force of personality, Jonathan managed to persuade and cajole anyone he thought could help him in his project. Little did Ian Coldwell, John Kinsley, Steve Bacica, Andreas Leslie and Ali Grant know when he first approached them, all those years ago, what they were letting themselves in for! Four years later, in 2009, we opened the Beach House and the following summer Portobello Sailing and Kayaking Club was formed. The Club is a charity. All of its work is done by volunteers.
From that humble beginning, the Club now runs a busy children’s sailing and kayaking programme, regular racing and courses for high school children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to take up water sports. Alongside this, the club has enthusiastically established a coastal rowing section - row porty - which is playing a key role in the development of the sport around Scotland's cos. The group have built two skiffs, Ice Breaker and Jenny Skylark for everyone to row for fun, exercise and racing.
Recently nominated one of the best cafés in Edinburgh, the popularity of the Beach House has grown and regularly draws new visitors to Portobello. The Café has physically doubled in size, employs 25 people, many of them local, young individuals entering the job market for the first time as well as offering work experience to local schools. It also actively supports the community by sourcing much of its produce from local suppliers.