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Help decide who wins our Engagement Virtual Award! Voting now open!

The Engagement Award – Sponsored by Igloo Energy – is in recognition of someone/a group of people who have gone above and beyond to try to engage paddlers and keep you motivated throughout this period. This is aimed at anyone who has stepped up to try to keep your club, paddlers, parents and athletes engaged, motivated and feeling part of the community. 

From Monday 16th until Sunday 22nd November 2020 you will be able to help us decide who will be the winner. The following candidates have been shortlisted as the top 3 in ‘The Engagement Award’ category.

Neil Smith

Neil is a committee member for Hinckley Canoe Club where his role is Kit Officer and he is also a volunteer coach/trip Leader. However, Neil is a driving force in the Club, constantly promoting paddling activities for the various disciplines and actively encouraging participation for all ages and abilities.

Lockdown began just as Annual Club Membership renewals were due. Membership uptake was initially very poor and income was low as a consequence. Neil recognised the importance of HCC maintaining a high profile with former members and he used social media to promote a variety of activities which over time appear to have had a beneficial impact on membership uptake. 

At the beginning of April 2020, Neil arranged for a small working party at the HCC base to ensure the facilities would be COVID-19 compliant. This was particularly challenging as the venue currently has no running water or power supply to the lake side location. Public access to the venue was not possible until the restaurant on site reopened in July but HCC was ready for the Government to give the go ahead.

Whilst HCC was unable to use its facilities, Neil was actively involved in arranging a variety of local, shuttle free river trips (approximately 1 each weekend) until the Club Lake Sessions were able to resume in July. To enable club members to take on the role of being a trip organiser, Neil ran virtual training sessions covering the relevant facts that needed to be considered.

Once the weekly lake sessions recommenced, Neil then coached most Thursday evenings until the end of the Summer Season in mid-September. In addition to the coached Lake sessions, Neil continued to promote and encourage other club members to organise river trips and Neil often attended these as a trip leader.

HCC would like to recognise the time and commitment Neil has voluntarily put in to the Club, particularly during this testing summer and it should be noted that Neil continued to work full time during this period.

Lynne Marie Dale

Lynne is fantastic. I first met her just after lock down eased as she is the paddle sport officer for Black Dog Outdoors (at the time I was an attendee). Black dog help people with poor mental health get outdoors and active for free. I was extremely nervous on the day and she instantly calmed me down with her soft, calm approach (unusual in an outdoor instructor.)

She has given up her time for free all summer to put on events for BDO, each of these paddling events including canoeing, kayaking and SUP she organised other coaches for free. She did this so that they can gain business from the connections they meet with attendees, she could have been making business for herself. 

Lynne is so passionate about just getting people on the water. She doesn't push or rush. I have seen a number of people who are scared of water not only take part but now return to her events. She makes connections and engages with people who are on the footpath while paddling, including ending up with a large referral of home school children who are now all enjoying the water due to Lynne starting a conversation with a passer-by. If she can see you can be pushed on she does, with me she knows I like to lead so has talked about getting me qualified to help on events as I am now also a volunteer for Black Dog Outdoors

She works tirelessly most days with people from all backgrounds on the water then sets to her fantastic social media stories and then works on her emails and messages often at midnight. Yes she also does it for a living as well. But the passion and drive she has to help other and engage as many people as possible in water sports is unparalleled. She has helped literally hundreds of people since lock down eased and worked on it all behind the scenes during. I have not met anyone that does not say, ah Lynne, she is the best. 

Nigel Frankland

From Day 1 of the National lockdown back in March, Nigel got to work to keep all those at reading Canoe Club engaged. 24 hours in and he'd organised Zoom sessions for any member who had access to a computer and wanted to join in. For an hour every day throughout the lockdown, there was a session – a warm up, exercises for core or circuit training that could be done in any small room, bean tins or similar as weights, with warm down and time for a bit of social at the end.

Eight months later and these sessions still continue daily. They have been a lifeline to members shielding, to members living on their own and others self-isolating. These members have felt part of the community and with at least an hour a day of purpose and connection with the outside world. Nigel has even had former members participating from abroad – in Hungary and Germany – and in other parts of the UK.

Once restrictions were partially lifted and we were back on the water, Nigel started organising a phased programme to get the adults back on the water (our junior coaches sorted their groups). He set up and led small groups – five plus a coach – targeting paddlers he knew needed just a bit more confidence to be able to go out on their own or in a small non-coached group. He has been very successful in that respect, as well as taking out some of our more experienced paddlers to keep them up to speed and engaged. And there's always variation in the session to keep us alert and active. Small groups have worked very well too.

As summer ended and the nights have drawn in, Nigel has put together an extensive winter programme for all age groups and abilities at the club, all Covid-compliant of course. That is no mean feat, with so many demands from the different groups – four separate junior groups and at least three different levels of adult groups, all requiring use of gym equipment, ergos and the hall at peak times. Of these, he leads the middle tier adult group on the water and runs all the adult ergo sessions.

And on top of that, he has a demanding full-time job and a busy family life too. 

How to vote for choice! 

Please click here to complete the following voting form and cast your vote for the nominee of your choice, and feel free to share this far and wide within your circles. 

This voting form will be live until midnight on Sunday 22nd November 2020, so be sure to get your votes in.

Once again, thank you to everyone who nominated, and congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted.

Happy voting! BC Virtual Awards Team