In 1982, Martin Home and Dave Cope made the decision, for the purely selfish reason of maximising their own paddling opportunities, to start a canoe club. They displayed posters in Baldock, Royston, Stevenage and Letchworth inviting interested persons to attend a meeting at the:
THREE TUNS Pub in Ashwell at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 16th February 1982
From that first meeting, the club was formed and named with an initial membership of 14 people. Two people are still members from that inaugural meeting – Chris Morley and Martin Home.
Our first weekend away was on the River Teme at Ludlow. This was a river with a maximum classification of grade III (I – being easy and VI – being death). We were barely able to cope with the degree of difficulty but somehow survived the weekend!
In the intervening 22 years, the cub has moved pools from Royston Meridian school to North Herts Leisure Centre and has managed to average around 60 members per annum. Within the club there are currently Level 1, 2 and 3 Coaches who between them have introduced hundreds of paddlers to canoeing in almost 30 years.
We have risen to the giddy heights of Canoe Polo and managed to get into Division I Mens – playing in a national event at Crystal Palace, and currently have a very successful social Ladies Polo team.
Thankfully, our standard of white water paddling has increased dramatically from that first weekend away and have since then paddled in:
- the UK - including Wales and Scotland;
- Europe - France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Norway;
- Central America - Costa Rica;
- South America - Chile;
- North America - Eastern USA, Western USA, Canada;
- Australasia - New Zealand;
- Asia - Nepal...
...on some of the most testing rivers in the world.
In slalom we have had paddlers in the Premier division and currently have a Veteran paddler who has consistently been in the top 3 of his category for the last 8 years!
These have happened regularily since the club began. Quizzes, 10 pin bowling; Ice Skating and Vodka nights, Pub Games evenings; and most importantly the Annual Dinner and Dance where awards are given, some serious and many tongue-in-cheek. We are never more serious than when we are taking the mickey!
"We are all better than we know.
Provided we are given the chance to find out,
we will never settle for less."
Martin Home (oldest swinger in town)