A year as a She Paddles Ambassador

My year as a British Canoeing #ShePaddles Ambassador is coming to an end, what a year it’s been! From meeting other amazing women to gaining some pretty amazing opportunities, let’s have a look back at my year, where it began and what it’s lead to.

When I applied for the role of #ShePaddles Ambassador I was a novice paddler, I’d had one lesson on my paddle board and had begun my own adventures on the water. My passion lay in access to blue spaces and increasing this access, but I didn’t think this would be enough to become an ambassador. I’d seen previous ambassadors who were either professional paddle instructors or professional paddlers, I didn’t see anyone like myself in the cohort of ambassadors, so I thought I’d give it a stab with an application.

To my amazement I was accepted as one of the 2021/22 ambassadors and I was invited down to British Canoeing’s HQ to meet the new cohort of ambassadors. It was great to get together to see what everyone’s aims and aspirations for the year were. We heard from Claire Rutter a previous ambassador and we were inspired by her story and what she’d achieved as an ambassador.

To break the ice we were given the chance to have a go at SUP Ball which was brilliant fun. I left the day feeling excited and inspired for the year to come to share my passion for access.

As ambassadors we were gifted some kit by British Canoeing and Gill, including a cag, coat, hoodie and some stickers. We were asked to get photos of these for their promotion so I made the most of some Scotland scenery whilst on holiday up on Islay as a backdrop for some photos in my new cag and the Lake District in my Aqua Parka.

Throughout my year as an ambassador I was offered plenty of amazing opportunities. The highlight of the year for me was being a paid speaker at Kendal Mountain Festival. We were on stage with Chris Brain and Cal Major, so it felt pretty surreal as a novice paddler. I spoke about my personal experiences of the mental health benefits of accessing blue spaces and I highlighted the minimal free access we have, raising awareness of the Clear Access Clear Waters campaign.

As part of the role as a #ShePaddles Ambassador we were each interviewed by Emma Love for a feature in SUP Mag UK, this was a great opportunity to share more about my background to hopefully inspire future ambassador applicants as well as to share information about the Big Paddle Clean up.

I organised a Big Paddle Clean Up in June along the River Eden in Cumbria. This involved getting other people together to educate them about the impacts of litter within our blue spaces and collecting some of this litter to improve our places to paddle.

As part of this I did a take over on the Go Paddling Instagram which was great fun, sharing our day and showing people how to host and record their own Big Paddle Clean Up.

I love writing so throughout my ambassadorship I asked my fellow ambassadors to take part in a series of interview blogs for my website. It was lovely to get an insight into their paddling experiences and their ambitions on the water.

I was very excited when British Canoeing got in touch to ask if they could publish my blogs in the Canoe Focus section of The Paddler Magazine. This was done for my interviews with Katie Simmons and Anna Stishova and gave me some great exposure for my writing.

Throughout the year as a #ShePaddles Ambassador there were so many opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to, with the title of a British Canoeing Ambassador it opened lots of doors. This included invitations to speak on podcasts such as the Start a ripple podcast with India Pearson. It was lovely to speak about bridging the gap in conversation about how important access is to our adventures both on land and water as well as my own mental health challenges and how paddling had been a new outlet to overcome these.

British Canoeing also did an interview with me about the holistic benefits of paddling in our blue spaces and my passion for greater access to these spaces. These kinds of opportunities throughout my year as an ambassador gave me the chance to expand my skills and broaden my horizons within the freelance world for writing and public speaking.

The final piece of work I did with British Canoeing as part of being an ambassador was having input into the new Paddler’s Code. The Paddlers’ Code is an exciting new guide for canoeists, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders. This piece of work also included featuring in the promotional video filmed by Media Pack, filming some addition pieces for this myself and supporting the launch of the code with social media posts and blogs. This is coming in October so keep your eyes peeled on here and my Instagram for more!

I’m proud to have advocated access through my role as an ambassador and have enjoyed meeting so many other inspirational women on a mission to get more women out onto the water. I’d highly recommend getting involved with the #ShePaddles initiative in any capacity you can no matter your paddling ability. The #ShePaddles movement is on a mission to continue to close the gap between men and women and girls participation in the paddlesport community by taking a targeted approach in reducing barriers and creating more appealing paddling opportunities for women. Meet the 2022/23 ambassadors here and keep you eyes peeled for the work still going on by the #ShePaddles Alumni, our work carries on beyond our year as an ambassador!

She Paddles

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