CANOE club members desperate to save their group have created a petition to put pressure on Vale of White Horse District Council to rent them land for a new permanent base in Abingdon.

Kingfisher Canoe Club – and its youth division Pathfinders – packed up and left its home of 25 years in October.

It came more than 18 months after the club was served an eviction notice by the Army Rowing Club, with which it shared a Wilsham Road site.

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

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.

But in April the club was told that it would no longer be possible, legally, for the authority to provide a lease for the site.

David Shurman, 68, youth development officer at the club said: "Since we lost Wilsham Road we have been lobbying hard to get the council to reconsider its position and have had independent legal advice that the challenges to the application are not insurmountable.

"There is so much support out there that we want to get at least 500 signatures to trigger a debate among councillors.

"I think people appreciate we are all volunteers who are not doing it for ourselves but for the good of the community."

Kingfisher Canoe Club has been operating for more than 40 years in the town but after several stays of execution club members were forced to move the 60 canoes they had previously kept at Wilsham Road at the end of October, some of which are now stored more than 30 miles away.

Mr Shurman said it was 'critical' that a new home for the club was found before outdoor sessions started next year or a 'generation of members would be lost', putting the future of the club at risk.

The club has already lost a Sport England grant worth £31,000, as a condition of the cash was that a lease was in place by the end of June.

Last month, 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."

Club members will be in Abingdon's Market Place on Saturday from 9am until 3pm with a paper petition and details of an online version will be available via once it has been created.