Record turn out for Leamington canoe club's 'doggy paddle' from Warwick to Stratford
The event has been running for nearly 30 years
A record number of people showed up a 'doggy paddle' on the River Avon from Warwick to Stratford.
More than 300 paddlers from across the country turned up to make the 18 mile journey last month.
The paddle is organised by the Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club (RLSCC) to raise money for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to help support its national breeding centre and training centre in Leamington.
The event has been running for nearly 30 years.
The chair of RLSCC, Michael Gallion, said that he is proud to have organised the event and this years turn out was a much needed boost after the last 18 months.
He said: "Many people took up paddle sport during the pandemic enjoying physical activity in a beautiful natural environment.
"There is also a calmness that comes from being on the water and paddle sport is becoming more and more recognised as being good for mental health."
Michael also said that events like this 'embody the spirit of the canoe club'. Firstly he said the club exists as a valued member of the community.
"In partnership with organisations such as Warwick Castle, Charlecote Manor and local landowners and fisherman we work to protect our rivers by educating all water users to be environmentally responsible", said Michael.
"As a club we organise litter picking events and ensure that all our members respectful of other river users.
"The club also supports the British Canoeing campaign for free access to all rivers in England."
Michael added that the club also aims to ensure that paddlers of all ages can learn the sport and enjoy the different styles from racing, touring and white water kayaking, open canoeing and standup paddle boarding.
Some of the money raised from the Doggy Paddle is helping towards coaching development and opportunities are given to the young adult paddlers to start their coaching careers.
Michael said: "Our youth development at the club offers introductions to racing and white water paddling from the age of eight years old.
"Opposite our racing and recreational junior groups posed for a group picture at Warwick Castle, the youngest member on the Doggy Paddle, Stephen aged 12 paddled all the way to Stratford with the promise for well deserved treat at the end."
Michael added that the club also prides itself on being social and that it holds events such as weekend paddles and quiz nights for its members.
Michael also wanted to thank those who helped with the event. He said: "Many people who did the ‘doggy paddle’ mentioned that all the helpers were amazing.
"In order to run this event around 30 helpers are needed to ensure the river was clear from obstructions, safety was provided at each of the weirs, sweeper boats were in place to help strugglers and anyone who had an involuntary swim were expertly plucked from the water.
"We are already looking forward to the 2022 Doggy Paddle and hope to welcome an even bigger crowd for a good cause."
For more information about the Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club go to: www.rlscc.com