British Canoeing are excited to announce their Women’s Paddling Ambassadors for 2019. The ten ambassadors were chosen to represent paddlesport at a range of different levels and in a variety of disciplines. All ten women have fantastic and unique stories about why they paddle. One thing they all have in common is their passion for getting outdoors and sharing their love of the sport with others.
This is the second year we have chosen our Women’s Paddling Ambassadors. It’s no exaggeration to say we were blown away by the number and quality of applications. Despite it being incredibly difficult to choose just ten awesome women it was a real joy to read so many stories of people’s love of paddlesport.– Cadi Lambert, Go Paddling Engagement Officer
The final ten ambassadors were chosen by a panel of five people, including one of the 2018 Women’s Paddling Ambassadors, Deborah Kerr.
Shona was introduced to paddling on a 10-day expedition in the Bavarian Alps. She was there with Battle Back, an adaptive sport and adventurous training initiative for wounded, injured and sick personnel from the Armed Forces. Shona has recently had her right leg amputated below the knee and as well as undergoing intensive physical rehabilitation is also currently working towards her Paddlesport Leader Award.
You don’t need to be limited by either your own or others beliefs. Some people believed I could no longer achieve anything because I was ‘broken’. There are no barriers and it is possible to achieve whatever you want to.– Shona
Having just turned 16, Ruby is our youngest ambassador. Inspired into slalom paddling by joining Viking Kayak Club, where Etienne Stott is also a member, Ruby soon discovered that another discipline; Canoe Polo, was where her passion lay. Three years on and she is now part of the GB Canoe Polo Development Academy and aiming for the GB squad in coming years.
Throughout my whole time involved in paddling I have come across the loveliest and kindest people. People who want you to succeed, that give their time voluntarily, that cheer you up when you’re down and are proud when you do well.– Ruby
There aren’t many disciplines Lizzie hasn’t turned her hand to. From competing in slalom at the 2012 Olympics to the Rafting World Championships, sea kayaking expeditions and now tackling freestyle. Lizzie has a huge love for paddlesport and wants to see more women staying in the sport through different stages of their lives.
I firmly believe that if there were more opportunities for females to easily experience other paddlesports disciplines, to try something different, to participate in something less time committing or more recreational as opposed to competitive, they may be more likely to continue to participate.– Lizzie
Having discovered paddlesport in her 40’s, Kate has well and truly caught the bug - no wonder really as her first paddling experience was navigating around icebergs in Antarctica! Despite ending her first paddle back in the UK with a black, egg shaped bump on her knee she has never looked back and has packed more paddling into one year than many do into five. With a growing craft and kit collection Kate is now looking to move through the Paddle Awards and on to the Personal Performance Awards.
My 2019 paddling calendar is already pretty full. One of the first things on my list is to buy a sea kayak. The saying goes that the number of kayaks you need is the number you have plus one. My husband isn’t so sure!– Kate
For Bex paddling is all about raw happiness in all its glory. From being a ‘girly girl with no hobbies’ at the age of 18 she now describes herself as a ‘girly girl with all the hobbies’ at the age of 24. Her desire to show others that there is no such thing as perfect and that that’s ok also makes her a great coach and leader.
Mistakes are an important part of paddling. And I like that because they’re also an important part of life. Everytime I have made a mistake I have learned something new. How awesome is that?!– Bex
Vicki got hooked on paddling 5 years ago, having seen an advert for St Helens Canoe Club at her local gym. Having an autistic son had meant she and her family had become socially isolated. Paddling changed that completely. Vicki now creates campaigns in her club to encourage new female paddlers to the sport and even has a paddling related career, working for the Desmond Family Canoe Trail.
I can honestly say paddling changed mine and my families lives. It gave me a sense of purpose and a zest for life. We are now a paddling, active and sociable family.– Vicki
Having been through a tough few years personally, Emma returned to paddling; a sport she had loved in her teenage years. She found it the perfect therapy to help her heal. Emma’s paddling adventures are regularly accompanied by her three year old son. An active member of her club, all of Emma’s adventures, achievements and mishaps are done with a huge smile.
Going forward I love to eventually be able to work with Domestic Abuse charities to offer women the chance to have a go at paddlesport. Helping them to build their confidence back up and heal through the great outdoors.– Emma
At the age of fifteen Donna was in a wheelchair with back issues and found her beloved sports activities were no longer achievable. After many years of surgery Donna discovered that yoga strengthened her back enough to allow her to become active once more. Stand up paddleboarding complimented this perfectly; strengthening her core as well as freeing her mind. SUP yoga is now a huge part of Donna’s life and she wants to share its benefits with others.
There’s something magical about being on the water, rain or shine. It’s like flicking an instant switch to a place of tranquility and space.– Donna
Coming from a deprived area of Glasgow was no barrier to Amiee’s journey into paddlesport. A 12 week personal development course with the Princes Trust in 2012 sparked a love of the outdoors. Amiee went on to study Sports Development at college, gaining coaching qualifications and going on to university to study Adventure Performance and Coaching. Joining the British Army as a reserve combat medic also led to a kayak expedition to the Amazon Rainforest.
My main areas of interest lie in positive youth development, increasing access in sport, the enhancement of mental and physical wellbeing and the promotion of longevity in sport. I can’t imagine a life now without paddlesport.– Amiee
Jo doesn’t spend much time sitting still. At the age of 54 she loves to share her enthusiasm for fitness with others. As well as being a keen paddleboarder, Jo also bodyboards, swims, cycles and plogs (runs with a litter pick along the way). This summer she is paddleboarding 162 miles from Liverpool to Goole, picking up litter and sharing the message that the waterways are wonderful for well-being and mental health. She will also be raising funds for The Wave Project and 2 Minute Beach Clean.
I am keen to show that paddlesports are not only for the elite or an Instagram perfect adventurer. You can be 54 and very normal, with a busy life and still find time to enjoy SUP.– Jo
Our current membership sits at around 28% female and 72% male. It is important to us to create a more balanced membership by getting more women paddling. Our Women’s Paddling Ambassadors are fantastic at spreading their love of the sport to a wider audience.– Cadi Lambert, Go Paddling Engagement Officer
Over the coming year we will be doing feature pieces on all our ambassadors. They will also be at the ICF Slalom World Cup at Lee Valley in June, so do say ‘hi’ if you see them there.