Sailing into Stardom

It all started with a phone call…

You know the type, the call you’re not expecting, the ones that catch you by surprise.

This call wasn’t about sailing but started with the words, “We’re working on a new detective series to be shown on ITV.” 

You can imagine the Chairman’s surprise, but as the words “I think you have got the wrong number’ rest on the tip of John Lymer’s tongue, the caller followed with  “We’re looking at filming locations, and we may be interested in using your Windsurfing Club.”

That’s it; the interest was spiked. The conversation ensued, and in the following months, West Pennine Windsurfing Club transformed into the set of Ridley, a four-part series featuring Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar, a retired detective lured back to work for one last case. 

The much-loved clubhouse, which has been home to windsurfers since 1982, rapidly became ‘Ridley’s home.

The line of windsurfing boards and rigs were replaced with pot plants, and inside racks of buoyancy aids were replaced with bookcases adorned with crime-solving novels.

However, the most noticeable transformation was the new windows and doors framing the detective’s home, new flooring, new lighting and the white walls replaced with a pale green to create the perfect film set ambience. The writers had experience working on Vera and Midsummer Murders and were well-versed in creating the ideal dramatic set. 

Whilst it was all hands-on deck to move the boards and rigs to temporary storage, unfortunately no members were used as extras, and the club was out of bounds for filming days which took place for just one to two days per month during the winter season, November 2021 to April 2022, keeping disruption to members to a minimum.

Now six months on, with no camera in sight, the red carpet has been rolled away, and Windsurfers occupy the clubhouse once more.

However, if this article has taught you anything, there is a lot more to West Pennine Windsurfing Club than meets the eye; not only do they welcome film crews and windsurfers, but all water sports!  The club actively encourage paddle-boarding, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, wind foiling, wing foiling and radio-controlled model yachting, and it’s the variety of their offer that they put down to their membership growth. In 2019/20, the club had 83 members, increasing 50% to 121 last year, and membership now stands at 134. 

“It’s fantastic to have more families joining and to see the great buzz of different sports happily co-existing on the water!” says Chairman John Lymer.

So, if you fancy surfing, kayaking, foiling or boarding on a film set, this is the place to be! 

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