Mid Cheshire SUP is an ASI accredited stand up paddle school run by Brian Cadwallader and Richard ‘Rango’ Jordan, based on the stunning River Weaver in Cheshire in the North East of England.
Whilst 2020 has been a challenging year for us all there have still been some wonderful achievements made that are worth celebrating and Mid Cheshire SUP’s involvement in their local river being awarded a Green Flag status is one such silver lining!
ASI spoke to Brian to find out more about the club, how they support their river and how being an ASI accredited SUP school gave them a keen advantage in winning this covered award.
Mid Cheshire SUP has been going since 2012, tell us about how you got started in SUP, involved with the ASI and how MSC got started.
My introduction to SUP happened when I was on holiday on the French Atlantic coast. It must be nearly ten years ago now. I remember sitting on the beach and watching a paddler launch her board onto the sea and paddled along the coast line beyond the breaking waves. I thought, wow that’s different. I could do that and so I did. On returning home I bought my first SUP board, a 12.6 touring board and off I went down the River Weaver.
This was groundbreaking stuff, as no one had seen a SUP board locally and were amazed to see me on the water. I managed to convince a good friend of mine Richard Jordan to try paddling, he was hooked and so MCSUP was born. The growth of the club over the years has been amazing with over one hundred members from all over the North West enjoying what we have to offer.
Why did you become an ASI instructor?
Becoming an ASI instructor was an important step to ensure members had the best access to their learning environment, knowledge and safety. The ASI qualification gave me the opportunity to offer this, but also to become an accredited school at that time.
This has allowed MCSUP members to progress as instructors or importantly undertake the SUP Wise program ensuring our members are safe and knowledgeable on the water, with all our members going through water safety training too.
I have enjoyed being an ASI instructor, being able to pass on the knowledge to others, to watch paddlers develop from beginners, to becoming proficient paddlers is very rewarding, but importantly to see their personal development and the opportunity to develop myself.
The ASI offer so much in this aspect, you can see why it is the leading authority in the world. The opportunities to embrace, to promote yourself in many disciplines is just remarkable. Mid Cheshire SUP is an accredited ASI school and through this I have been able to promote the ASI and offer development to other paddlers.
COVID has been a challenge for us all this year but we've seen how SUP has been able to offer a healthy escape for paddlers. How has COVID affected MSC this last year?
Covid has no doubt restricted many of our planned activities this year, especially our annual SUP Camp at Barmouth but also the normal club paddles. We have managed to work around the tiers organising paddles either with partner bubbles or within the current guidelines for outdoor activities aligned to the local restrictions. This has enabled club members to carry on paddling, but has been challenging due to the fluid nature of things changing by the week and the planning and recording that goes along with this.
Completing the ASI Covid Secure Audit award has given confidence to club members, with everyone understanding the club’s position and the assessments based around Covid safe paddling and their welfare.
Interestingly through the Covid Pandemic we have been able to develop new ASI L1 Enclosed water instructors via the ASI online training. MCSUP was in a great position to support this by having experienced instructors available to coach and mentor candidates and go through the training process with them. This was more time intensive than the usual training courses, but nevertheless enjoyable and just as successful.
MSC has adopted a section of the beautiful River Weaver and recently saw the river awarded Green Flag status! Tell us how you got involved in that and how the MCS gang contributed to that award.
I think an important factor about leading an accredited school is offering the SUP WISE program. The ability to take the modules and use them in practical learning terms.
I applied for Mid Cheshire SUP to formally adopt the river we use in partnership with the Canal and River Trust, one of the UKs largest charities overseeing the waterways in the UK. As a result we became the first SUP club in the UK to adopt a river through their adoption scheme. A fantastic accolade that I am proud of and ables us to look after our river Weaver both environmentally and in conservation.
Our members contribute to the adoption by maintaining the river ensuring its clear of plastic, we notify the CRT of any issues such as damage, pollution or blockages and inform local wildlife support groups of any issues with wildlife, such as birds with fishing line entanglements etc.
This gives our members the benefit of applying this to our SUP WISE program, allowing club members to experience the things they write about for the qualification, plus to give back to the river we enjoy so much.
As a result Mid Cheshire SUP was recognised by our communities, town council and CRT and were presented with a community award by the town mayor for our active work on the river.
The ASI are sponsoring a seal pup this year, supporting the Cornish Seal Sanctuary; tell us a bit about the wildlife and natural environments you get to share with your members in the places you paddle.
We are blessed here in Mid-Cheshire. We have many so many different types of paddling environments all within a 30 mile radius, from rivers to coast. Our home location is on the River Weaver based at Winsford Marina. We have the Winsford Flash to paddle on. This is a large lake that is fed by the natural River Weaver which meanders down from the western perimeters of the Cheshire plain. This then flows into the River Weaver Navigation which was canalised in 1880. So from meandering to the straight our river offers all of this.
The wildlife is abundant, especially in the upper reaches of the River Weaver, we have Mink, Weasel , Foxes and Badger sets along the bank. Many water birds are supported by the river including Kingfishers, Heron and a nesting population of Canadian Geese and Cormorants
SUP has seen an enormous rise in popularity over the past 12 months; what advice would you give to a beginner paddler thinking about getting involved?
My advice would be to seek training and not to overstretch your ability. To be prepared for going onto the water, embracing your safety wearing the appropriate kit to support this and to share your paddling with a friend. Check the weather conditions, especially wind direction for coastal areas, but importantly get to know your board; how to maintain and look after it.
It's been a tough year and we're all looking forward to a far more positive 2021. Tell us about some of the things you're looking forward to in the coming year.
It’s strange looking forward to planning activities in a world where Covid restrictions may still apply. However, we are planning. Our usual Thursday evening paddles will hopefully start again, looking forward to the social side of the club activating again” Paddle n’ Pint” is always popular and a must to rehydrate.
Weekend club camp paddles are being talked about again, as is going down to the Wirral coast for a bit of sea paddling. We are hoping to be working closer with the CRT and our local town council in promoting SUP in this area. We have a development program at MCSUP and through this have 3 new ASI instructors, so we are geared up for hopefully another busy year ahead!
Thanks for taking the time to give us a deep dive into MCSUP’s amazing successes, Brian! You guys are amazing and you’re absolutely smashing it, good luck for a rad 2021!