I have always been interested in outdoor activities, joining the scouts as a child and the hill walking club that was set up by my middle school, because of these early experiences the natural progression seemed to be to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award when I was in high school.
As part of my Duke of Edinburgh award I joined Wansbeck Paddle Sports Club. I learned to canoe and kayak both in rivers and on the sea, during that time the club was very new and quite small with only one coach with any considerable experience, Tom Thomas. Tom's rule of the club and in turn my early years as a paddler is probably best described as tyrannical, my friends and I spent many weekends breaking ice from the surface of the river Wansbeck in order to practice rescue skills in freezing temperatures and cursing his name.
As cruel as Tom's methods seemed at the time I'm now a half decent paddler in the various craft he coached and I can't thank Wansbeck Paddle Sports Club enough for that. After my first couple of years paddling I became a coach myself and have since tried to pass on my experiences to others who join the Wansbeck club which is steadily growing due to a number of people doing the same.
In 2009 I began a history degree at the University of Cumbria, I enjoyed my time there however it did not have a kayaking club. I spent a lot of time travelling home to paddle or meeting friends in places halfway but I was unable to spend as much time in a boat as I would have liked. As a result of this I began rock climbing with the university outdoor club and paddling took a back seat. During my final year at university I began to plan a circumnavigation of Britain with fellow Wansbeck paddlers Craig and Stuart Leslie, we decided to attempt the trip anti-clockwise against the prevailing winds. We received an overwhelming amount of support and sponsorship and completed the trip in Ninety-six days finishing in August 2012. The Britain trip felt a bit like a fast track tour of British paddling and as I went round I noted several areas that I will definitely go back to explore further, among them Northwest Scotland and Cornwall. It also made me realise just how much was possible in a sea kayak and has left me eager for future expeditions.