I started kayaking about 9 years ago when my kids first started at Falcon Boat Club. I sat in the car park for the first 2 months, until one of the coaches asked why I didn’t give it a try, so I did! I continued on and off for about a year and a half, until my kids stopped (GCSE, etc.). Just before leaving I managed to try out a canoe on a couple of occasions, which proved to be extremely beneficial. About 6 years ago I realised I had access to my college canoe. Thereafter for the next 5 years, my wife and I would go out between March and October, every weekend without fail. Towards mid-Autumn 2020, as the first main lockdown was easing, I kept bumping into the Falcon groups on the river. I had a chat with Nick, who suggested I come back. Once lockdown restrictions eased, I resumed down at Falcon in March 2021 and I picked up where I left off with my kayaking.
After a few session and the clubs support, we agreed I would take up some coaching to gain further experience and qualifications, leading on to help coaching at the club. Another reason I felt was to help encourage more participation from my local community, with a familiar face on board.
I managed to complete my FSRT and Paddlesport Instructor awards…
I found the courses extremely educational and very beneficial. Now I have completed the awards, I will continue helping adult beginners and kids sessions. I also plan to continue canoeing in my spare time.
One of the areas of boating Nick and I discussed was the lack of ethnically diverse communities participating. I have been paddling on the Thames and Cherwell in and around Oxford over the least 6 years, other than the occasional tourist, I rarely see people from the ethnically diverse communities on the water.
In order to try and address this issue, as well as give our club some further exposure in this area, we agreed to hold a joint community event. Once we agreed the date, I circulated information to the various local community groups, offering a go on a boat as well as some nice food! We managed to finally deliver the event and had some 200 plus people in attendance. Lots of people, both adults and children tried out various crafts, and really enjoyed the day. The coaching staff were extremely helpful, and made it a great experience for the public in attendance.
We hope today’s event will encourage people from the wider community to take up water activities and join this hidden gem of a club on their doorstep!