Interesting Times (Continued)

Four years ago, some of us were quite genuinely living through “interesting times“… but in strange ways. Despite all concerned having good intentions, the build up to the British Canoeing Annual General Meeting got quite feisty. The upshot? A bit of a reset on several fronts…

Ivan Lawler got elected & set out to adapt the role of NGB “President” to the needs of the grass roots in 21st C. Sport!

Since then, life’s certainly taken some crazy turns… and whether we have felt positively or hesitant about it, many who’ve share a passion for life in and around the water will have sensed a modern Britain forcing the pace of change. British Canoeing was on a mission… and behind the scenes, pressures were appearing everywhere – often with real implications for our clubs and recreational paddlers!


Four Years of Redefining a Role

Throughout these last four years, Ivan’s quietly gone about standing with members who’ve found themselves in need of support. Key beneficiaries have been athletes (as he came in championing an athlete welfare agenda) but also all those recreational enthusiasts whose number one concern was seeing British Canoeing develop a meaningful Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign.


Achieving Things – Without a Big Stick!

As a Regional Chair who has stood with and supported Ivan on a range of fronts, I’ve seen first hand how he’s connected with, and supported, those who have (for whatever reason) sought support in working with the organisation. Of course, this is something lots of us do – but Ivan’s established this as the key future role of the President.

Fortunately, standing with others as President is not a role that comes with big stick! Getting things done means working collaboratively, but Ivan’s shown that can work (e.g. the recent Sprint Review, where he championed the involvement of clubs and even more focus on athlete welfare).


Looking Ahead

At this year’s AGM, Ivan stands down, and I would like to take a lead, now, in thanking him for what he’s done – but the best way to show our appreciation might be to ensure that we build on the way he shaped that role. Which brings us to a crunch moment: we’ve got an election being contested… & the outcome could have a big impact!

Four of us have thrown our hats into the ring, and British Canoeing have added a simple online voting form with a bit of info on what each of us are wanting to bring to the role… so it’s over to members! Options are:

  • Roland Lawler – a legend who’s standing “to question decisions that are potentially not in the best interests of our members and clubs, to make sure that the sport is the priority & that paddlers are not overlooked by the very organisation they are funding to serve their needs”;
  • Tom Parker – “One of the UK’s most active and experienced white water kayakers and coaches” – he’s grateful to a sport which has given him “a huge amount; adventure, fun, lifestyle and livelihood” and would “like to give something back”;
  • Dee Paterson – a former GB Athlete & British Canoeing & British Paralympic Board Member who SCA Chairman nominates as “aligned with the needs of the organisation as it seeks to further grow and develop our sport”;
  • Me – Proposed by Pam Bell (enthusiast & leading access campaigner) to be “a ‘thinker’ and a ‘doer’, who can represent our sport at all levels, across all disciplines, and [who] is in touch with the grass roots membership”; 

Looking for Something Specific?

If you’re on this site because you’re considering voting for me, I’d highlight my Enriching Lives – On & Around The Water and my more recent Living With Uncertainty Adobe Spark presentations – or just short-cut to the overview & 5 minute videos embedded here

If you’re really keen, the blog includes many more pieces which show what I am about. See, for example, Trangression, Inclusion & Diversity in the Outdoors and my I am a guest in someone else’s practice Talent Equation Podcast.


from my perspective Greg Spencer it is who has been in regular communication with me throughout my period in role. He has been engaged in the areas that are important to me and has a broad range of discipline and coaching history, therefore Greg would be my choice of candidate to continue where I left off. He would be accessible to us, has race experience and a desire to see the Access campaign move forward. I believe he has the persistence and tenacity to represent members and the sport when necessary and has the diplomacy skills to get our voices heard even when we don’t feel welcomeGreg Spencer […] has been in regular communication with me throughout my period in role.

He has been engaged in the areas that are important to me and has a broad range of discipline and coaching history, therefore Greg would be my choice of candidate to continue where I left off […]

I believe he has the persistence and tenacity to represent members and the sport when necessary and has the diplomacy skills to get our voices heard even when we don’t feel welcome

Ivan Lawler – British Canoeing President 2017-2021


You’re also welcome to browse my Facebook timeline… which has been a platform for discussion of everything from coaching & inclusion to access & athlete welfare (oh, & collections of photos from dad, dog & daughter adventures).


Poppy Croal Kayaking“I think Greg has a real passion for the sport and will put a lot of time and effort into this role. He has lots of ideas but is always inviting the opinions of others and listening to what people have to say” – Poppy Croal (inspiring young athlete, coach, coach developer & ambassador)

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