'DEVASTATED' canoe club members have warned their club could die after plans to move to a new site fell through.

Kingfisher Canoe Club – and its youth division Pathfinders – packed up and left its home of 25 years in Abingdon on Saturday, more than 18 months after being served an eviction notice.

The club had identified a 'perfect' new site in the northern corner of Rye Meadow but its attempt to move there has collapsed, with coaches warning the group will die unless it finds a new home by spring.

The club, which has more than 140 members aged from 11 to 70, is desperately hunting for a new base.

Planning permission for the Rye Meadow site, which is owned by South Oxfordshire District Council but administered by Vale of White Horse District Council, was approved last October.

David Shurman, 68, youth development officer at the club said things at first looked positive as Kingfisher received a letter indicating that the Vale intended to grant a lease.

He said: "That's when we started fundraising to pay for the work and we secured quite a few grants, including one from Sport England for £31,000.

"But in April we had a meeting with the council where it said it was no longer possible, legally, to provide a lease for the site.

"We have done everything we possibly could, tried to do it the right way and work with the council to find a solution but this is the position we've been left in.

"It's devastating."

Kingfisher Canoe Club has been running for more than 40 years in Abingdon but was given notice of eviction by the Army Rowing Club, with which it shared a site in Wilsham Road, in February 2016.

There were tears from Mr Shurman and adult development officer, Louise Royle, on Saturday as they helped pack away the 60 canoes previously kept in Wilsham Road, some of which will now to be stored more than 30 miles away.

Ms Royle said: "We're homeless now.

"The club will be okay over the winter because we can still run pool lessons, but if we don't have something sorted by the spring then we could lose an entire generation of members."

Mr Shurman, who has been involved with the club for more than 30 years, added: "It's much more difficult to get things started again if we have to close, even for a year or two.

"We will lose all the work we have put in to building a community over the past four decades."

The club has already lost the Sport England grant, as a condition of the cash was that a lease was in place by the end of June.

Mr Shurman said: "We are spending every moment we have on this and we feel like we've done all the right things but keep hitting brick walls.

"We just need someone in a position of authority to help us."

Vale spokesman, Andy Roberts, said the council had worked hard to help the club and investigated a number of locations.

He said: "Unfortunately, all the locations investigated in our ownership had legal issues that prevented them from being used for the club’s needs.

"We granted planning permission in our capacity as planning authority – all planning applicants are responsible for identifying that there are no other restrictions on the site."

The club has been backed by British Canoeing.

Its chief executive, David Joy, wrote to the Vale, saying: "Given that community kayaking has a 40 year history in Abingdon it would be a huge loss if the club was forced to close so I urge you to join us in supporting this fantastic canoe club."

For details about the club visit kingfishercanoeclub.co.uk/