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Paddlesport Leader Provider Case Study: Adam Williams

The Paddlesport Leader Award launched on 3rd April 2017 and is aimed at paddlers taking on formal leadership responsibilities in benign, sheltered water environments. |The award supports Leaders to run safe, quality, enjoyable trips based on their group’s needs and aspirations.

Meet Adam Williams, Paddlesport Leader Provider, who shares his enthusiasm for the new Paddlesport Leader Award and the effect it is having in the East.  

Although I am an Essex boy at heart, I have spent the last 25 years living and working in Norfolk – long enough to now be considered a “Norfolk boi”. 

My journey to this point began at the age of 8, at Harlow’s Outdoor Pursuits Centre, where I fell in love with kayaking. My dad was the Sports Motivator at the time, engaging kids into sport - including his own! At this point I must explain my dad apologises for giving me to the sport and applauds British Canoeing for enduring my enthusiasm!  

Since 16, I’ve always been involved in clubs and competitions as a member of British Canoeing and quickly realised I wanted to work in the sport, if at all possible. I’ve raced K1 and K2 with some great friends, paddled with the GB freestyle team (back in the day), led some amazing open canoe expeditions, and over the last 3 years sold my soul to the development of SUP and sea kayaking.

Living in Norfolk and being surrounded by the famous Norfolk Broads, its cracking coastline and river systems, I can truly say I’m in a great place to offer this brilliant sport of ours. 

I have spent the last 12 years leading the outdoor adventure course at City College Norwich and I love it. We are predominately paddlesport driven, as naturally we work with what we have. Over the last 11 years, we have built paddle sport into the BTEC programme, running the British Canoeing Level 1 and on some occasions, the British Canoeing Level 2 training.  

The Paddlesport Leader Award in the East

Back in 2012 I was lucky enough to win the Education Award for Canoe England and since then it’s been a fantastic ride to becoming a Provider. 

The change in British Canoeing has seen a huge air of excitement around it and I’m so happy to be a part of this growth. Having applied for tutor status before and not been successful, I was excited to be making an application as a Paddlesport Leader provider. You can imagine how happy I was, just before Christmas when I received the email to say “you’re in” (well actually it said a bit more than that, but that’s what I read!). 

I’m a massive fan of the new award for numerous reasons.  From a local point of view and from an educational point of view, it’s brilliant! We have students on the Outdoor Adventure course for 2 years and the Paddlesport Leader Award fits really well alongside the modules in leadership, bush craft and managing equipment.  It’s almost as if the award was written to fit the course.

Benefits Beyond Education

Not only is the Paddlesport Leader Award having a huge positive impact on education, this is spilling over to employment. We have over 20 centres in and around Norwich which all offer paddlesport. Our students are being taken on by these centres as seasonal staff so it’s giving the centres fully qualified staff that can lead sheltered water journeys, holding an NGB award. This is having a great impact on the East, not just on the students we have contact with but also the clubs, rental businesses and recreation.

This region has a multitude of clubs, recreation, racing, coaching, touring, kids clubs, after school clubs, sea scouts and water safety groups. In fact we have everything! The Norwich Canoe Club alone has a huge successful reputation for racing and hosts the Hassler every year.  This opens opportunities here too and all these paddlers will be able to be a part of this new award. It feels like this is just what the East needed and having two providers locally that want to see the sport grow is brilliant!  

Since February I’ve met some fantastic people and the energy around the award is widely becoming infectious as it starts to grow. The National Trainers who delivered the initial training were fantastic which has set the scene for the award. The trainers were keen to work with us to develop delivery of skills.  It’s also been great to work with like-minded people and share resources and ideas to gain a standardised approach to delivery. The award is engaging, educational, motivational and thorough. I’m looking forward to focusing on creating quality safe leadership, with a tool box of knowledge for every leader. 

To find out more about the Paddlesport Leader Award, click here