I have been kayaking for about 7 years and it's only the last couple of years where I have totally found the love for it and felt the need to be on the water at any time possible! If anyone had have said to me 3 years ago that I would be a White Water Kayak Leader now, I'd have claimed they were mad and it's not something I could do! Something changed and gave me the drive to improve my paddling, making me realise that I could work towards my White Water Kayak Leader award.
I was quite happy just being part of the group. However, I started to feel more confident on the river and wanted to give leading a go. This gave me a good focus whilst out on the water, which meant that my paddling also improved. I started asking if I could help lead when we did some club trips and also I chose to lead sections of rivers whilst out with friends, just to gain experience.
I really enjoy helping out with running club trips with Tynemouth Canoe and Waveski club. I enjoy seeing others going through the journey of getting into river running and becoming to love it. It's great to be able to lead them down a river and also to see so many happy faces during and after each trip. I enjoy using my White Water Kayak Leader award to help people especially those who are nervous on the water as I know how it feels to be really nervous but really want to do something. I also enjoy giving more confident paddlers who I'm leading challenges that will help them improve their kayaking too.
So I chose to do my White Water Kayak Leader training and assessment in Wales, even though I live in Newcastle. I wanted the knowledge that I could lead without knowing exactly what was coming around the corner. It was also awesome to get on new rivers and to practice skills on rivers I didn't know with great leaders.
Being told that I'd passed was an amazing feeling! It was really good to work alongside different people all doing the same course and learning about their experiences. It's also been good to see how different people operate on a river and how people handle different scenarios differently. Learning to use the correct, most efficient rescue techniques I have found really useful too.
As a really nervous and scared beginner, I would never have got to where I am now and learnt to love kayaking so much, I'm so grateful to all these people. I hope I can help more people enjoy White Water Kayaking, now that I’m qualified.