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British Canoeing launch Inclusion Advisory Group

Iag Group Photo

British Canoeing has today announced the appointment of a new Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) who will help drive its inclusion strategy for England.

By appointing eight individuals from the paddlesports community British Canoeing has reaffirmed its commitment to embedding a culture within the sport that is as open, accessible and inclusive as possible.

The role of the IAG will be to advocate for, and promote a culture of respect, champion diversity and advise on inclusion and anti-discrimination topics within the community. By working together, British Canoeing and the IAG hope that those participating, volunteering or watching paddlesports, will begin to reflect the diversity of the nation’s communities.

British Canoeing CEO, David Joy said: “Ensuring our sport is as open and inclusive as possible is imperative to our organisation and our new Inclusion Advisory Group is an exciting step towards achieving this.

“We were delighted to see a great response from both inside and outside of the paddling community, and we're looking forward to working alongside their expertise and insight on this journey. We want to ensure British Canoeing always strives to be as reflective, accessible and inclusive of society as possible."

The eight strong panel will be chaired by former Olympic canoe slalom coach, John McCalla-Leacy. Speaking on his appointment to the group, he said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have been appointed Chair of British Canoeing’s newly formed Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG). It provides me with the unique opportunity to combine my love for this sport with my desire to continue championing diversity, inclusions and social equality. 

“I’m proud to be both a partner, and the first Black board member at KPMG UK which enables me to champion Inclusion, Diversity and Social Equality at work. Canoeing, and all it has taught me over the years, has undoubtedly helped me get there.  

“Canoeing has played such a significant role in my life, bolstering my personal growth, providing me with discipline and focus, not to mention helping me form lasting friendships. I look forward to working with my fellow IAG members and British Canoeing, and I hope that, together, we will make a real difference to the lives of the next generation, knowing just how much of a difference canoeing made in my own life.”

The eight Independent Advisory Group members include:

● John McCalla-Leacy (Chair) - Partner and board member at KPMG UK

● Alex Laybourne (independent) - Deputy CEO of disability charity Power2Inspire

● Anna Stishova (non-independent) - ‘Kayaking Hijabi’ ,paddler and social media contributor

● Benji Evans (independent) - Equality, diversity and inclusion professional across public, education community and voluntary sectors

● Dave Hunt (non-independent) - Leader and instructor on Higher Education courses at Leeds Beckett University

● Eilidh Gibson (non-independent) - International slalom paddler and founder of Slalom Inspires

● Julie Robbins (independent) - Head of Inclusion at the Youth Sport Trust

● Rachel Hudspith (non-independent) - Experienced paddler and coach, with experience and knowledge supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion