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A message from David Joy - CEO of British Canoeing

These are certainly extraordinary times. As the country continues to deal with the consequences of COVID-19, I wanted to send you our best wishes, to share with you the impact so far on British Canoeing and to ask for your support over the next few months.

David Joy

Several weeks ago, as this crisis began to unfold and as it became clear that the Coronavirus was going to have a huge impact on the country, we established some principles to guide our decision making in England.

The first of these principles was to act in the best interest of the health and welfare of our members, athletes, volunteers and staff. We really hope that you and your loved ones have managed to stay safe at home and that you will continue to do so. 

These exceptional times have required us to take some extraordinary actions, including cancelling all of our domestic and international events as well as gatherings until at least the end of May.

In March we also advised clubs in England not to provide any activity during this period of social distancing and non-essential travel. These decisions were guided by another agreed principle, which was to always follow the advice and guidance of the government. 

These decisions taken by British Canoeing impact only in England.

Decisions that may apply to activities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taken by the devolved administrations.


A few days later we went further issuing strong advice to members not to paddle. Of course this was not an easy decision, but once we received the request to issue the advice from the Environment Agency it was the only reasonable thing for us to do. This was then quickly followed with similar advice being issued to all users by other waterway authorities to #StayAtHome and stay safe.

We all know that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have now been postponed until 2021. We had also been working for two years to host the European Slalom Championships in May this year and the Freestyle World Cup in July and both of these have had to be cancelled. 

Our offices have been closed for just over three weeks and our staff are now working from home and accessible by email and phone. Contact details for staff members can be found on our website. We are working hard to minimise the impact of the slowdown in paddlesport, to react to the significant loss of income that we are expecting in 2020 and to help clubs, providers, centres, retailers and other key stakeholders get ready for the bounce back in activity that we hope will occur in the second half of this year.

We recognise that this is an incredibly challenging time for all of us within the paddlesport community and that there has never been a more important time for us all to pull together. Therefore I am inviting you to show solidarity in three ways;


  1. To stop all paddlesport activity until the guidelines are relaxed by the government, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone and to support the NHS to save lives
  2. To try to do everything you can to support the paddlesport economy. If you were planning to take a course that was cancelled, can you re-book it for later this year? If you were planning to buy some clothing or equipment then can you still buy it now, or buy it as soon as you start paddling again? Our community is small, those who make a living from paddlesport have been key in helping the growth of paddlesport over recent years and are essential to our healthy future. Have a think about how you could help to keep these small businesses going.
  3. If your renewal is due in the next few months, are you still able to support us by continuing your membership with us?

After seeing member satisfaction rates rise to an all-time high last year and membership retention rates increase to 75%, the past two weeks has seen a rapid decline in membership renewals.

If this continues at the same rate to the end of our financial year this will result in a very difficult position for British Canoeing. After making such a lot of progress over the last three years to get our sport to this point together, we are also now facing a very tricky period, and your continued support though your membership renewal would be most welcome.


#Stronger Together has never felt more relevant than it does today. We very much look forward to seeing you all back on to the water again soon. In the meantime make sure you stay in touch and check out the great things coming up in your newsletter over the coming weeks.

In the meantime we will be doing everything we can to support our brilliant community and encourage you to stay in touch and involved.

Over the coming weeks we have some great things coming, our members news will be flying it’s way to you every two weeks showcasing activities and adventures to explore from the comfort of your own home, interactive quizzes and inspiring articles. Don’t forget your member benefits are still available to take advantage of.

#StaySafe #StayHome and all the best.

David Joy
CEO of British Canoeing