British Canoeing is delighted to announce seventeen inspirational #ShePaddles Ambassadors for 2023/24. Our Ambassadors will play a pivotal role in promoting paddling and encouraging more women and girls to get on the water.
From the very first moment I set foot on a kayak I was hooked! Fear of making a mistake, losing my balance and falling in were overwhelming to say the least. Fortunately, I was able to stay in my kayak and very quickly, in control of my vessel. The sense of achievement soon replaced the nerves.
Having an amazing coach and a bunch of amazing women to paddle with also helped turn things around quickly and I looked forward to going out on the water every week. I felt happier and free. Participating in races and training helped me to get fit!
My daughter has also benefited from paddling. She was feeling the stresses of her exams and found that paddling helped her cope. She took herself away from her books for an hour or two and went back motivated and recharged.
My dream is to be able to offer the joy of paddling that myself and my daughter have experienced with other women and girls in my community. A lot of us didn’t know bell boats existed or that the canals were accessible. If anything, to me the canals were ‘unsafe’. I was so wrong!
Many of the women who I have reached out to or introduced paddling to share the same love which drives me to reach out to more, who can also benefit the way my daughter and I have.
I’ve been kayaking since I was 19 and I absolutely love it! I quickly found that being outdoors, and especially being on the water was my favourite way to experience life. I got to try surf kayaking for a few days in Canada and I thought it was the best controlled chaos out there!
I get out on white water when I can and I’m really lucky to have a great job where I get to paddle every day. As a youth worker and outdoor instructor I’m very lucky to work with some amazing people, and I want to create a safe and authentic space for women and girls to show up as they are and start paddling. So many elements of kayaking and canoeing can be scary and I want to make sure that the girls I work with feel comfortable enough to try something new and go away feeling more confident in themselves.
I’ve been an avid paddler for six years now, but my love of white water really started when I joined Durham University Canoe Club. I want to provide a platform for women in leadership, toshare experiences and advice for those leading on white water. I aim to increase the number of women in leadership within the white water community in my area by building their self confidence in their ability and providing them opportunities to learn; I want to raise the awareness to why there are disproportional ratios of paddlers and highlight these situations and solutions to other clubs.
I have tried many types of paddling since being at university – I’m proud to play in our Women’s Canoe Polo team and trial C1 and C2 white-water paddling. I'm now Captain of the club and hope to give back to the club the opportunities it has provided to me.
I'm looking forward to encouraging as many women and girls as possible to take up paddling. Paddling in all its forms provides so many opportunities to individuals who take it up and I’m really keen to promote the benefits to everyone.
Whilst at university I am very keen to encourage more women to take up kayaking and motivate women to become more confident and comfortable paddlers. I am also looking forward to sharing and reflecting on my journey with paddling and looking at all the amazing things it’s brought into my life.
I grew up in the Lake District, so I developed a love of watersports pretty early on. But after a long and dry hiatus, I started paddleboarding and qualifying last year as a Paddlesports Instructor. Sport and physical activity have been a huge part of both my personal and professional life, but I love paddling in particular because of the community, the challenge and the simple beauty of being out on the water.
As a #ShePaddles Ambassador, I’ll be working closely with organisations within Hertfordshire, where I live, to use paddling as a means to engage with local communities and encourage more people to be more active. While at the same time, sharing my journey and experiences of paddling in a way that I hope is familiar and motivating to women and girls.
I've been paddleboarding since 2019 and do a bit of kayaking as well. I am one of the admins for a Facebook group called 'East of England Paddlesports' with 13k members and we are the first online group to be affiliated with British Canoeing! I love anything to do with water so I also sail, wing foil and wild swim. I truly believe in blue therapy and how much the water can help both the mind and the body.
My aim is to encourage more women and girls out onto the water, and also to help give them confidence to do so. By doing this I hope it allows them to build the confidence to utilise paddlesports in the form of blue therapy. I want to encourage and inspire women and girls of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and ages to get out on the water.
Facebook: East of England Paddlesports Group
Being an Ambassador for #ShePaddles will add value to what we already offer as Wild Wonder and Wisdom CIC. As a social enterprise we already deliver beginner paddling sessions as part of our varied programme to young girls aged 9-16 as part of our This Girl Can group, to young women out of education, employment and training aged 16-25. We now deliver sessions to our growing This Woman Can group for women aged 30+ in the St Austell area of Cornwall. It’s awesome to be working with other inspiring women across the country doing similar things and I look forward to collaborating on ways to get more women outdoors and active together on the water.
My journey started 18 years ago in a twitchy kayak taster session, but I only started enjoying paddling when I moved to open canoeing and paddle boarding more recently. Mostly I’m found on flat water in Lincolnshire but I have been known to leave the county to show my crafts a little moving water.
Whilst part of the incredible Lincolnshire Scouts Water Activities team, I noticed a lack of opportunities for my Guide unit. I was chuffed to lead my Guides out on the water after completing Canoe and Stand Up Paddleboard Coach Awards in 2021. This is where I want to focus as a #ShePaddles Ambassador – helping other Girlguiding leaders provide opportunities for young members.
My paddleboarding journey started at a very difficult time in my life and it has helped me beyond measure. I'm looking forward to sharing both the physical and mental health benefits of paddling in nature; to inspire other women to experience the benefits too. Paddleboarding has helped my self-esteem, health and body confidence and I have gone on to gain friendships, have adventures and push my own boundaries. I joined the ‘Paddle Up Club’ two years ago and was so nervous, I nearly didn’t. Now, I’m proud to have completed my Explore Award and I’m Club Captain and Membership Secretary for this wonderful club. I’ve had adventures all over the country on rivers, seas and canals and taken part in races, SUP yoga and even Battle of the Thames on a mega SUP!
As an Ambassador, I’m excited to show other women that no matter what your starting point - if you want to take part - you can! I’d also like to engage with media representations of women in paddlesports and normalise the image that we see.
I adore paddleboarding on the Regent's Canal in Central London. It's so special being close to wildlife, chatting with people on the water and along the towpath as we journey. It’s a big wellbeing boost too. For the past year, I've wanted to empower more women to have a go. Cost and confusion about how to do something such as balance on water are big limiting factors.
I'm hoping that my focus on #ShePaddles ideas in 2023/24 will offer lots of women in the community paddling tasters. If the stars align, then the dream is to get SUP to be socially prescribed by Islington and Camden GPs. There will definitely also be litter picks. See you on the water soon!
The Scottish Canoe Association have announced their four #ShePaddles Ambassadors for 2023/24. We'd like to welcome Hannah, Jade, Julie and Niamh.
I love meeting new people and hearing about their adventures, as paddling can be exciting, sociable and relaxing. I started paddling with my local club ten years ago and I have since seen many amazing places on rivers and at sea, but there are many more places I would love to explore. I hope to help more women and girls start and continue paddling. However, I remember the challenge of starting my period and struggling with the lack of toilets and changing facilities and this is something I would like to address. I would also like to work with other sports to create an event or resource which helps women become more confident in their coaching and leadership journey.
I’m 25, a mum to a seven-year-old boy and during one of the lockdowns I was reintroduced to paddlesports after taking part in a personal development programme run by the wonderful Venture Scotland. The water became my safe space again after so many years. It’s where I can take the mask off and just be myself. I then went on to spend the last two years studying Outdoor Pursuits & Adventure Leadership at Edinburgh College where I was supported and encouraged to gain my FSRT, SUP Leader and Paddlesport Instructor qualifications.
I’m keen to keep growing and gaining experience and knowledge, my end goal would be to have my own charity where I can offer subsidised or free sessions, to be all inclusive and to promote women and girls in the sport.
My heart lies on the coast and SUP surf and coastal excursions give me the biggest smiles. I love the variety that paddling brings to my enjoyment of the outdoors. There’s a craft and environment for every occasion and the inclusion opportunities this offers is something I am so keen to utilise to help get more LGBTQ women and non-binary people out on the water. I also want to share my knowledge and experience on the coast to help empower women to undertake their own journeys safely and confidently.
Facebook page: fit_sup_scotland
I took up paddleboarding over lockdown as I found it was the perfect socially distanced activity. As an active individual and lover of the outdoors, like many others I struggled with the restrictive nature of a post-COVID world. I instantly felt a boost to my mental health and wellbeing, and this helped forge an unrivalled connection with the sport. I have always had an ambitious and driven nature but a negative side to this is I find it almost impossible to “switch off” or clear the buzz from my head. Being out on the water is one of the rare occasions I find peace and am able to focus solely on the task at hand.
I have met some amazing people within the paddling community and my overarching mission is to help drive forward paddlesport accessibility for all, to share and showcase the benefits I’ve experienced.
My main motivation is to help encourage, motivate and support more women and girls to get into paddling as too often I’ve been faced with comments around the barriers women face. I am keen to break down misconceptions and remove these barriers to make the sport as inclusive and diverse as possible. I want to share my love, passion, knowledge and skill set in order to develop a strong set of women and girls in paddlesport who above all have fun on the water!
I’m excited to develop the work I have started earlier this year running a ‘SheSUPs’ course and am particularly interested in tackling the barriers around body confidence and physical ability.
Canoe Wales also welcomed their three Ambassadors earlier this month. Meet Hannah, Meg and Megan.
#ShePaddles Cymru has kept me on the water and kept me (vaguely) sane these past couple of years! The entire team created such a supportive environment which has kept me paddling regularly despite chronic neurological disease, and the belonging I’ve found in our community really helped me to keep hold of my identity when I became a mum. I have a bee in my bonnet about making the outdoors and nature accessible for everyone, so the fact that I benefited so much individually while also being trusted to represent female paddlers as a #ShePaddles Cymru Ambassador has meant the world to me.
Hannah was also a #ShePaddles Ambassador last year, so many of you will know her already. We’re sure you will agree she has been a fantastic Ambassador and we are looking forward to seeing what the next year holds for Hannah.
I love paddling! I am an active member of Cardiff Canoe Club and sit on their committee as the safeguarding officer and social secretary. I paddle weekly with the club, be it on rivers in the summer or helping out at pool sessions throughout the winter. Being a predominantly white water kayaker I paddle as much as possible down Cardiff International White Water and attend river trips when the levels are right.
I want to share my enthusiasm and encourage as many women and girls as possible to get and stay on the water.
After taking a step back from competing competitively in Canoe Slalom, I have started Canoe Polo. I play for Rhondda Rhinos, a new team with great potential! I volunteer at my local kayak club and help coach the Welsh Canoe Slalom team at various training camps. I love seeing girls smiling and having fun when paddling and I want to see as many girls as possible out on the water enjoying themselves.
We hope you join us in welcoming our 17 fantastic Ambassadors! Over the coming weeks and months we will be bringing you lots more of their paddling stories.