Meet the faces of Go Paddling Month with Gill

Meet the faces of Go Paddling Month with Gill

Since the launch of Go Paddling Month with Gill, we’ve all seen the winners of our ‘Faces of Go Paddling Month’ competition splashed across our social media channels. So now we thought it’s a good time to introduce you to some of them and hear about their journey into paddling.

Chris Jackson

Image of Chris Jackson paddleboarding in Cornwall

Favourite paddling location: Newgale – Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

How long have you been paddling for? Two years on paddleboards

What craft do you paddle?
BecauseSUP – 10’8″ Carbon Fusion Start
Bic Performer 10’6″ Composite hardboard

What does paddling mean to you?
Relaxation and exploration on still water as it’s a great way to unwind and take in the views. At the coast I also love to SUP Surf, I find this easier and more exhilarating than using my mini-mal surfboard. I’ve also found the paddleboarding community very friendly and welcoming.

Lisa Leathborough

Image of Lisa paddling with her family

What is your favourite paddling location? The Lake District – Cumbria, Northwest England.

How long have you been paddling for? I started paddling at university in Nottingham 27 years ago.

What craft do you paddle? I started out white water kayaking but since having children, I spend more time in open canoes with the family. I got into open canoeing when my husband and I went to Algonquin National Park in Canada just over 10 years ago, we spent 10 days canoeing and camping in the wilderness; it was magical.

What does paddling mean to you?
It means fun, laughter and adventure with family and friends. The friends I made in the university canoe club remain my friends decades later. I travelled and enjoyed paddling adventures across Europe, Australia and Africa and then met my husband at the National watersports centre. Now we enjoy paddling adventures with our two children, both of whom have been boating with us since they were six months’ old. The photo was taken by my husband and shows me with our son at Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia, North Wales.

Lou Hogson

Image of Lou Hodgson kayaking

What is your favourite paddling location? I do most of my paddling at North Bay in Scarborough as my favourite type of paddling is surf kayaking. I don’t have a favourite place and don’t mind where I am, it’s the people I’m with that make it a great day.

How long have you been paddling for? I’ve been paddling for four years.

What craft do you paddle? My favourite craft is my surf kayak but I also have a creek boat (in the photo), a sit on top surf boat and a paddleboard.

What does paddling mean to you?
Paddling is my escape from the real world. It can be exciting and sometimes scary or just chilled depending on what I’m doing. I’ve met lots of amazing people and have some great friends through paddlesport and look forward to going out every weekend or week day when I can. I’m currently working towards becoming a SUP coach and one day would love to coach surf kayak as well.

Neil Boast, MBE

Image of Neil Boast paddling

What is your favourite paddling location? I love the Deben Estuary in Suffolk, and Blackrock Sands in Wales, but passing under Westminster Bridge to finish the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, is my favourite.

How long have you been paddling for? I’ve paddled since my brother made me a kayak when I was 12 years old. I was hooked from the first paddle stroke. My dad took this pic of me on my first paddle…look at that joy!

Image of Neil Boast kayaking when he was 12 years old

What craft do you paddle? I paddle a Carbonology Boost Surfski, an Elio Cobra Sport K1, for marathon races, a Perception Expression 14 for fun, an OShea and a Sandbanks Style SUP. Then any stable K2 racer, where the front paddler will have me in the back seat to race, plus a battered old Canadian Canoe that we use for picnics. You can never have enough boats!

What does paddling mean to you?
Everything really. Paddling is my release from the stresses of my job, a way to keep fit, and a great way to have fun. It has extended my group of friends and I get a real buzz out of getting people into the sport.

Sophie Finch

Image of Sophie Finch kayaking

What is your favourite paddling location? I enjoy paddling on the tidal River Crouch, particularly circumnavigating Wallasea and Bridgemarsh islands. I belong to the Crouch Kayak Club which is based in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex and this is our local river.

How long have you been paddling for?
I’ve been paddling for four years now.

What craft do you paddle?
I mainly do sea kayaking but sometimes go canoeing.

What does paddling mean to you?
I love paddling as being out on the water allows me to disconnect from stress and focus on enjoying the present moment. It’s very calming to be surrounded by nature – the sounds of the birds singing and the smell of the salty sea air – and I love to spot seals relaxing on the mudflats. Paddling benefits both my physical and mental health – my strength, fitness, wellbeing and confidence have all improved thanks to paddling regularly. I also enjoy the social side of paddling – belonging to a local club (Crouch Kayak Club) has allowed me to make new friends and learn valuable skills from more experienced paddlers.

Steve Larkins

Image of Steve Larkin paddling with his family

What is your favorite paddling location? River Stour, Fordwich to Grove Ferry
How long have you been paddling for? 12 months
What craft do you paddle? Tootega Pulse 95 Sit on Top Kayak
What does paddling mean to you? Being able to go out with friends, have fun and unwind from daily life.

If you have been inspired to get out on the water for Go Paddling Month please don’t forget to register your paddles with us by clicking here! You might even win a prize!