Gold standard - Clarke at Park for official opening in Stone


Olympic Canoeist Joe Clarke holding gold medal

Gold-medal winning Olympic canoeist, Joe Clarke, will return to Westbridge Park in Stone which will be celebrating its £1.5m transformation this weekend.

Clarke was carried shoulder high in a canoe as he returned to a hero’s welcome to the park, which is home to the Stafford and Stone Canoe Club, after becoming Olympic champion in Rio.

And he will return to the park again on Saturday (27 April) which is having its official opening following a major redevelopment. The development has already proved popular having been completed at the end of last year and includes new play equipment, zip wire, wheeled sports facility and multi-use games area (MUGA) - as well as a woodland play area, sunken garden, toilets and enhanced footpaths and landscaping.

Having triumphed in the K1 event in Rio 2016 Clarke was granted Freedom of the Borough - by Stafford Borough Council - and awarded an MBE the following year for services to canoeing. He will be joined on the day by fellow Olympic paddler, Adam Burgess, who represented Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 games and Chris Bowers who has been competing on the international stage for a decade.

At 10am on Saturday 27 April the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Andy Cooper, will officially open the park and kick start a day of activities.

The Westbridge Park-based Canoe Club is renowned for producing national, European and world champions. And they will be finishing their ‘Paddle to Paris’ at the event - a challenge to paddle 619km which is the distance from their club to the canoe slalom venue in Paris. They will also have canoe slalom rowing machines so that members of the public can help them reach their target.

The Stone Scout and Guide Band will be performing and there will be a range of stalls and some sports taster sessions along with other entertainment going on until 2pm. There will also be a ‘skate jam’ from 12 noon until 4pm on the wheeled sports bowl.

The play park is significantly larger than the previous site and includes a range of equipment for all ages - including tower and tube slide, integrated mini trampoline, boulder scramble, tyre swing, and climbing blocks. The double zip wire has a more than 30 metre run. The MUGA is available for five-a-side football, basketball and tennis.

Clarke made history at Rio 2016 by becoming the first ever British athlete to win K1 canoe slalom gold. He and Burgess will be looking to add to their medal collections at the Paris games later this year.

Information about the park and updates around the opening event are available from

Press Release No 6117


Tel: 01785 619230

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