Did we think it would happen? No! But after a lot of last minute planning, determination and support from within the club we got there!
2020 started out as a normal year for Stafford and Stone CC, after holding our annual Winter Mini Series in January and February the club began the official race season with their first division 3/4 slalom. Always a popular event for paddlers to start their quest for promotion or maybe competing in their first race. Little did we know the country was close to closing down! The clubs annual taster sessions for recruiting new juniors, and adults to the club were all organised and visits to local schools had been arranged to talk to local children about the sport of Canoe Slalom. It’s important that the club recruit new members each year, particularly juniors. This ensures the future of the club and the sport.
Then came Covid 19! Closing down the whole of the UK, everything cancelled and nobody knew how long it was going to last or the devastation it would reap. The club was locked up and the race season across the UK cancelled.
Members kept in touch with each other with online meetings and quiz nights, all hoping they would soon be able to paddle again, and hoping everyone would be safe!
Four months on and a glimmer of hope from the government would allow some small amount of sport to recommence, then slowly restrictions began to ease. S&SCC committee and coaches put together a plan, following government and British Canoeing guidelines to enable socially distanced paddling for members.
Determined to continue to drive the club forward a plan was hatched to enable the Taster Sessions to go ahead. Not knowing how many, if any, would want to attend, the junior and adult recruitment was reorganised for the end of July.
The taster sessions were advertised and the bookings came flooding in, what started as a one day of small socially distanced junior tasters grew into four days with fifty children attending. The demand was high with juniors asking when they could come again? From this a Summer School was born. Every Sunday through August small groups of children were able to attend and learn how to paddle.
It was amazing to see happy faces on and in the water again!
It was a difficult task to organise the sessions ensuring all guidelines and legislation were adhered to, making sure all equipment and kit was sterilised between sessions, educating parents on supporting their child with kit, getting in and out of, and adjusting boats, but everyone rose to the challenge.
Last Sunday was the final Summer School session and over twenty children are signing up to become junior members. The new beginners groups will start paddling on Sundays at the club from 13 September.
A massive thank you to all who supported and enabled this to be achieved! Deborah Homer, Rufus McGreary, Rhys Davies, Jess Magson, Chloe Burrows, Brooke Benson, Keira Pearce, Isobel Mockett, Keira Pearce, Adrian Croome, Jess Croome and Alana Middleton.
Class of 2020 accomplished!
Words – Deborah Homer
Pictures – Steve Pearce & Adrian Croome