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Mike rewarded for 'dedication and commitment' to paddling

February 17, 2015

UPPER Edenpaddle sports enthusiast Mike Sunderland has received national recognition from British Canoeing for his “dedication and commitment” as a volunteer.

Retired Kirkby Stephen Grammar School teacher Mike, aged 58, of Hartley, who has 35 years of coaching experience, both whitewater and sea kayak paddling, was put forward for the national award by Cumbria Canoeists which oversees and supports six thriving clubs in the county, including one at Penrith.

Each year, theUKregions select a range of volunteers to go into the national volunteer of the year awards event which highlight the voluntary work ongoing throughout the country.

Passionate about getting people canoeing and supporting individual and club needs, Mike was said to have worked tirelessly and was “very professional” in his delivery. He had done a fantastic job of organising coach updates and motivating and inspiring paddlers and coaches, and had also done an excellent job of looking after regional finances and development plans.

“We are told that canoeing, or paddle sports, is the number one watersport in theUKfor participation and coaching,” said Mike.

When he was presented with the national award from British Canoeing, it was said: “Active within the coaching scheme for 30 years, Mike has held many roles in theCumbriaregion, includingCumbriaregional coaching representative, development team treasurer and River Lune access adviser.

“Always very professional, he delivers above and beyond what is required. Mike has greatly influenced the success of coaching and participation in the region with his enthusiasm and passion for getting people canoeing and supporting individual club and coaches’ needs.”

Married to Jill Neame, with two daughters, Katherine and Emily Sunderland, Mike said he felt very honoured to have received the award, but stressed it was very much a team effort and paid tribute to everybody he works with as part of the regional development team who all support each other and share out the workload.

A level 5 BC coach and 4* sea kayak leader, he first took to a kayak when he was seven years old and built his first boat at the age of 13. He has paddled ever since those early days.

Having been fortunate to have paddled all over the world, including Wales, Scotland, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, USA (including the Grand Canyon), Canada, India, Tibet, Nepal and recently Bhutan, Mike said he had had so much enjoyment and was keen for others to go out and do the same.

“I am passionate about paddling and am never happier than when I am on the water, so I am keen to share this and encourage others to explore the diverse sport of canoeing,” said Mike.

This year, he is running a number of sea kayak events to theHebridesand taking less experienced paddlers to remote places and workshops on the River Lune to improve their whitewater kayak skills.

In addition, he co-ordinates, with a team of area coaching representatives, coach update events — a requirement for coaches to maintain their coaching qualifications.

Paddle sports is thriving in the county, with six active clubs, including those at Penrith, Sedbergh andCarlisle. There is also the Lakeland Canoe Club covering the Kendal area; Copeland, which serves Whitehaven; and the Duddon club at Barrow.

In addition, centres, groups and outdoor activity organisations benefit from the support of Cumbria Canoeists, the umbrella organisation in the county. It supports the coaches and clubs overseen by volunteers representing British Canoeing — the sport’s governing body.

For more on paddle sport opportunities and information inCumbria, visit the website