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Emma Love and #ShePaddles Ambassador Emy McLeod catch up on all things SUP in the latest edition of SUP Mag.

The latest edition of SUP Mag is now available for you to enjoy! This spring issue features a huge array of travel features, coaching, interviews and more. It is a must read for all SUP enthusiasts.

In this edition of SUP Mag, you can read Emma Love’s interview with #ShePaddles Ambassador Emy McLeod as they catch up on all things SUP. Emma Love will be talking to eight #ShePaddles Ambassadors in a series of interviews across the year, so keep an eye out for more.

Emy Mc Leod

Photo credit: Neil Wilson

Based in Aviemore, Emy is an accomplished paddler, coach and runs her own successful paddle boarding club and business, Strathspey SUP.  We chat about why she feels it is so important for children to be able to experience the outdoors, what continues to excite her about coaching and her plans to complete some incredible endurance paddling trips. 

Tell me about the start of your paddling journey?

I still remember my primary and secondary school camps - we would go on little residentials where we would be away for a couple of nights and take part in a whole host of activities, including canoeing. It was your basic ‘get in a canoe’, play some games, fall out and swim. It was great! I did a little bit of club paddling while at university, and this was then followed by a business career (in the music industry), but it wasn’t my passion - I felt something was missing. 

What led you to change from working in the music industry to becoming an outdoor instructor?

Before and for the first couple of years at university, I spent my summers volunteering for the Rotary Clubs. They ran a programme to promote leadership called the Rotary Youth Leadership Award on Loch Tay with the Abernethy Trust. I worked as a camp leader and mentor. I would watch their outdoor instructors, and I was like, this is what I want to do - I belong outside! So, I did an intensive six-month outdoor instructor training in the Highlands just near Aviemore. The course covered paddle sports, summer Mountain Leader, skiing, climbing, biking and rafting. It was awesome - I wouldn’t be where I am today without going through that training. I now have my own paddleboard business, Strathspey SUP, I work as a freelance coach, and I am excited to be currently going down the British Canoeing Provider route.

Emy Mc Leod Sup

Photo credit: Neil Wilson

Looking back on how formative your early outdoor experiences were, how important do you think it is for children and young people to be able to access outdoor residentials?

I think it is a really important part of children’s education, even if it’s for one or two days or even just an activity day. These experiences can plant a little seed, and each child is always going to have that memory of going to camp for the first time (and being away from home) or paddling down a loch or river in a canoe. With the pandemic, some residentials have shut down, and I know funding is an issue, but I hope this will be resolved – I think every kid should experience the outdoors.

Do you think there are now more outdoor industry opportunities than when you left school?

Yes, I think there are. I knew I wanted to do something outdoors, but unfortunately, I remember being told, “There is not really a job there, and why don’t you do something else?” There now seem to be lots more courses and outdoor degrees – it’s becoming more openly accepted as a career.

Emy Mc Leod Wwsup

Photo credit: Neil Wilson

What is it that drives and inspires you to coach?

Seeing individuals progress is rewarding, and equally, I find their progress inspires me. If I can help them on their journeys, offer them some coaching and introduce them to something new, that’s awesome! To see individuals grow, achieve goals, excel and go way beyond my ability is amazing to see.

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Emma and Emy’s chat continues inside SUP Mag where you can read about how Emy’s passion for white water SUP came about and what plans she has for upcoming paddling trips.

For more stories like this, kit reviews, travel articles and coaching features from the world of SUP, purchase a subscription to Stand Up Paddle Mag UK. 

British Canoeing members are entitled to 23% off the cost of a subscription, meaning the print version of the magazine costs just £5.99 per edition as opposed to £7.49 for non-members. Click here for more information.