This Girl Can campaign awards Bath Canoe Club funding

By Leah Smith in Other Sports

Bath Canoe Club (BCC) has recently been awarded funding from Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to encourage new female members to join. The £9,573 received has been used to buy smaller volume canoes and sea kayaks, which are more suitable for many female paddlers and will hopefully encourage more women into the sport.

BCC has produced several talented female kayakers over the years, including white water kayaker, Maeve Smith. Maeve, who is local to Bath, signed up for a beginners course with her mum at the age of 17 and took a liking to white water. Maeve is infamous in the club for her record amount of swims on her first white water session, ten in total, but she never failed to dust herself off, get back in her boat and try again.

She hasn’t stopped since. Now only 21 years old, she has progressed so far in her four years with the club. She’s kayaked in the Alps, taken on the mighty rivers of Scotland, last year spent four months kayaking in Chile and this month, is heading to the rivers of north-western USA. She has just recently obtained her four-star river leader qualification, which in the future, will allow her to lead paddlers down white water rivers, and was recently featured in British Canoeing’s Canoe Focus magazine.

BCC has a range of courses available for beginners, from one day taster sessions to four-week courses which run through the summer. With plenty of opportunities to go to the coast for sea paddling or surf kayaking, head to the rivers of Dartmoor or Wales for some white water action or just for a quiet paddle down the Avon for lunch at Bathampton Mill, BCC is great for wannabe paddlers.

The BCC clubhouse has been undergoing redevelopment after the club was awarded £100,000 from Sport England and British Canoeing. The redevelopment is nearly finished and has involved construction of a mezzanine level to house a classroom and social area in addition to river access improvement.

Ashley Matthews, Bath Canoe Club Chairman, said: “It’s great to have improved club facilities and more equipment for women in the club, as it will help encourage more women to enjoy canoeing. Our beginners courses, which run over the summer, are a great way to get active, make new friends and learn canoeing in a safe environment with qualified coaches.”

Maeve Smith said: “I want to say a huge thank you to all the BCC members for introducing me to kayaking, teaching me at the pool and for organising trips. It’s a great place for women to learn because they get so much support from the coaches and current members. Their help has enabled me to kayak in places like Chile and has opened so many doors in my life.”

More information on taster sessions and beginners courses can be found at www.bathcanoeclub.co.uk