All posts by nikki

Beginner Courses 2021

Covid restrictions permitting, we will be starting beginner courses in late April through to the end of summer, for both juniors and adults. Go to our Beginners page for more details, then click on the link and fill out a form to get your name on the list. As soon as a place becomes available, we will let you know.

Taster Sessions in May half term:

During half term, on 31st May, 1st June and 2nd June, we will also be holding Free beginner taster sessions for 9-16 year olds. Booking is essential. To book a place, go to the beginners page.

Covid 19 update, January 2021

Following clarification by British Canoeing of the headline Covid 19 restrictions and what it means for clubs, the club has no option but to close the clubhouse, boatshed and unfortunately the ability for members to launch from the site.

British Canoeing has received confirmation that paddling for exercise on the waterways is permitted and confirmed with Sport England that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted. However, under the new guidelines, all sports facilities must close. This includes the site. Club members that access their personal equipment should store it at home and launch only from a public space.

We know this is very disappointing, but these are unprecedented times.

Members can access the site to remove their boats and equipment by booking a slot on the access sheet over the coming week. However, after that we will limit access. If subsequently you need to recover equipment, please send a request to and we will arrange it.

British Canoeing published their latest Covid update yesterday with a reminder to paddle safely and to be fully prepared for winter conditions:

For any member experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid, please contact membership secretary, Sabine, directly on

Zoom Fitness sessions:

Don’t forget, Nigel and Sarah are still running fitness circuits and core exercises, Monday to Friday 5.30-6.30pm and on Saturday at 8.30am.

Zoom Invite:…

Zoom meeting code 947 1982 0964 and password RCC-Core

Thank you. Keep safe, keep fit and stay well.

Covid-19 update, December 22nd, 2020 – Independent paddling

Following clarification from British Canoeing on some points that are not 100% clear in the legislation, we are able to make a few small concessions to accessing the club during this time in Tier 4.

Firstly, we would like to thank the large number who have been understanding and supportive both publicly and behind the scenes in the last few days.  This was a very hard decision, taken in an incredibly short amount of time, with the best information that was available at the point we needed to make it. The Government has published multiple updates since our initial decision was made, some of them after the rules came into force. It has always been our priority to keep reviewing the guidance as it comes out over the last nine months, and we will continue to do so.

To the best of our knowledge, all clubs in Tier 4 areas took the same approach as we initially did, and some are not reviewing that. 

British Canoeing have now had enough clarification from Sport England to allow a very limited opening to the boatshed. They have made it clear that this is still an interim position, but they seem relatively confident in it.

Access to boatshed

The restrictions limit the number of people allowed in the boatshed. Given the layout and size of our boatshed, numbers allowed in at any one time will be limited to one pair (for those paddling with someone not of their household bubble) or one family or training group, up to a maximum of four people. Distancing must be maintained when in the boatshed. Due to this reduction in number allowed in the boatshed at any one time, we will be limiting site access numbers to 4 per 15 min launch window. If you can see or hear someone in the section of the boatshed you need to use, please wait until they finish before entering. The exception will be for K2s where the 2 paddlers may enter the same section but must stay a boat length apart while indoors.

U18s outdoor sessions

There is also a possibility of outdoor sessions for under 18s resuming. However, there are significant hurdles to achieve this. Due to these hurdles we have contacted coaches directly and those whose groups are able to operate within the restrictions will be in contact with their paddlers, with clear instructions. This is likely to take some time and highly likely not to involve all groups.

To clarify, the outdoor rules are very similar to November. You may paddle individually with one other person or in a family group. Access to the club is via the booking sheet. Depending on how the ‘one in, one out’ access to the boatshed goes, we may need to adjust either the length of the slots or the number of people allowed to book.

All indoor facilities including Toilets and Changing Rooms are out of bounds and you should not be changing in the boatshed. Please come ready to paddle and leave in the kit you paddled in. We appreciate this is unwelcome and may cause problems given the time of year, but it is the only way we can reopen the boatshed.

All members should be aware of the government guidelines surrounding travel into and out of Tier 4 areas, and the club encourages members to abide by these guidelines.

Main points distilled:

·      Book a site access to the club via the booking sheet – four per 15-min slot or one household

·      You may paddle individually, with one other person outside your household, or as a family group

·      Come ready changed and leave as you are – all inside changing areas, including the boatshed, are not to be used for changing

·      Only one pair or household/family within the boatshed at any one time

·      Toilets and all upstairs areas are out of bounds

·      Club boats may be used, K1 and K2

·      Please make sure you wipe down any areas you have touched and wash your hands frequently

·      Always keep 2 metres social distances in any areas while on the club site

·      If you come by car, please keep all your belongings within the car

·      If you must have a bag, please keep packed tidily in the boatshed for quick removal at the end

Many thanks for your patience and take care paddling. The river is on red and is likely to continue so for some time to come.

MBE for Tamsin

For voluntary services to Waterways and to Young People through Girlguiding UK

Tamsin, with Amber, in Switzerland

We are so delighted that Reading Canoe Club member Tamsin Phipps has been awarded an MBE in this New Year’s Honours list. This is for her very considerable volunteer work for Waterways and young people.

Tamsin has always been passionate about the development of young people and also about sport, constantly making them a central part of her career and volunteer work. That started early on with her teaching qualification, continued when she joined the army, with a special interest in organising a number of the sports teams and has continued since.

Most notably for young people has been her volunteer work with the Brownies and the Girl Guides. Having been very involved in the Guide Association as a child – Brownies, Guides and Rangers, even becoming a Queen’s Guide – Tamsin knew the value that Guiding has in society and the life skills it can give to a young person, as well as being lots of fun. 

As an adult, Tamsin first became involved in the Brownies when she left the army. After that, she became a Rainbow leader in Woodley, then, on moving to Wargrave in 2004, took on the role of Brownie Owl. In 2010 she established the village’s Guide Unit, so her Brownies would have somewhere to progress to. In 2016, at the request of her older Guides, she opened a Ranger Unit and Tamsin now runs this with her daughter Amber. Tamsin continues to run the village Guides whilst also carrying out wider duties for the Guide movement. That includes being Berkshire County Boating Advisor, a mentor for other guide leaders, Residential and Guide Advisor and being the Joint Division Commissioner for Maidenhead.


As Government and Public Affairs Manager during her time with British Canoeing, she led the nationally acclaimed Rivers Access campaign, promoting greater public access to rivers. Essential, of course, to all paddlers and an aspect we now take for granted. She also established a huge network of high-profile supporters and was successful in launching a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons. At this time, she was also asked to become a special adviser to the minister and became a member of the Inland Waterways Advisory Council. Tamsin was also actively involved in the restructuring of the British Waterways Board into the Canal and Rivers Trust, taking on the voluntary position of Chair of both Kennet and Avon and Bridgewater canals partnership.

And closest to home, Tamsin was key in transforming the ramshackle wooden hut that was Reading Canoe Club into the amazing facility we all enjoy today. On moving to Reading in the mid 1990s, she became a member of Reading Canoe Club, and its Chair within a year of joining. She had a vision to transform it with a new purpose-built facility. She took responsibility for all aspects of the project – from fund raising to procurement and overseeing the construction of the building – with its completion and opening in 1998.

Tamsin’s racing prowess:

As a competitor Tamsin has made a name for herself as a specialist in the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Known as the Canoeist’s Everest and referred to by Ex Royal Marine Paddy Ashdown as the hardest thing he has ever done, the race has a daunting reputation. Tamsin has completed the race on many occasions becoming only the second woman to join the 1000-mile club (8 successful completions). She has won the race 3 times and her fastest race placed her 5th against the men. Additionally, in competition she achieved National Marathon Champion status in kayak doubles and has served on numerous voluntary committees. 

And her list for volunteering goes on … she remains a key figure at the canoe club and, as well as all the above, also volunteers as a Reading Street Pastor, caring for her community during the night at weekends and at major events including Reading Festival.

Congratulations on your MBE, Tamsin. Hugely well deserved. We are proud to have you at the club.

Covid-19 update – lift of lockdown:

The guidance for returning to sport following lockdown is now mostly released. Therefore the club plans as follows:

a) Loaned equipment will be returned on or before December 2nd. Fred has contacted those concerned with the procedure.

b) Coached sessions will commence from December 3rd, when the coach is ready.

Outdoor activity rules for tier 2 are essentially the same as before. Uncoached groups of no more than 6 may be booked via the Google sheet, as they were prior to lockdown.

Coached groups and organised club sessions may be larger. Fred is in discussion with the coaches and each will determine their capacities. Please respect their decisions and don’t ask them to bend them.Coaches have the right to suspend members’ participation in future sessions if they do not follow club procedures.

Indoor-activity guidance has changed and has contradictions. We are seeking clarity on these.

a) Under 18 activity can resume as before (these rules seem fairly clear). You must turn up just before, and leave promptly after your session.

b) Over 18s rules leave a little more scope for confusion. Currently our interpretation is that group exercise classes, and therefore our indoor sessions, can resume as long as there is no interaction between households. By this we mean that as before you must turn up just before, and leave promptly after your session. Whilst taking part in a session please remain in your allocated space or on your allocated paddle machine. Wipe down all equipment and surfaces you touch before and after use. This is in line with many other local sports and leisure facilities that we have spoken to. On this basis it is our intention to resume the winter timetable as before, with booking essential, via Google sheets or as per rotas.

Please remember our coaches are volunteers and, as such, coached sessions may not restart immediately. Each coach will resume sessions when they are ready to do so.

It is very important that social distancing is observed by all members at all times while onsite. It is vital for the continued operation of the club that these measures are maintained. If we cannot, we will need to limit numbers further.

Thank you for understanding that this is a changing situation, which requires time to interpret.

2020 Trophy winners

In this strange pandemic year, with none of the usual marathon and sprint races running, understandably not all the trophies have been awarded. However, with impressive performances from certain individual paddlers throughout the year, the Club was delighted to present a small number of the prizes virtually at the recent AGM.

These are the 2020 winners:

Ergo Champion – Erika Hutchinson

Slalom Paddler of the Year – George Murphy

Junior Paddler of the Year – Phoebe Harbridge-Hui

Most Improved Junior Paddler – James Nelson

Most Improved Senior Paddler – Liz Raciborska

Ashes Trophy (for outstanding contribution) – Nigel Frankland

Swimmer of the Year – Erika Hutchinson

Well done to all the winners. We were only sorry we couldn’t award them to you for real.

Update to Club closure during the lockdown:

With advice from our Covid working group, who have looked at all the guidance and been in contact directly with British Canoeing, it is clear that, with regret, we must shut the club and all its activities.

However, we can allow access to the site to launch onto the river subject to members following a strict process which has been circulated to all members.

For all online activities, see the Facebook post from Nigel. There are exercise Zoom sessions at 5.30 Monday-Friday, and at 8.30 on Saturday.

The winter training programme 2020/2021

Please find the 2020/2021 Winter Training Programme. It will commence on 12th October.

The attached schedule shows both junior and adult sessions, who is running them and where ie hall, ergos or on the water. The juniors will already know from their coach who and how many can attend. If, due to Covid-19, this changes at all, your coach will let you know.

As for the adult sessions – on the water and circuits – these will run like the summer sessions ie Please sign up on the Club Access sheet. This is essential. There is a separate tab for each. This will inform you how many may attend each session and if there is space. There is also a tab for ergo use. However, for Nigel’s coached ergo sessions, it will run as in previous years, with allocated places. You will have seen Nigel’s note about it earlier today on Facebook, hopefully.

For all the most up to date Covid-19 information and protocols for each activity, please go to tab top right.

That includes new procedures for attending sessions in the hall and ergo use, as well as using the showers. Please ensure you read the relevant documents and refamiliarise yourself with the document on gym usuage too.

We have now set up a QR code, signs for which are around the club. Please do use this to sign in, BUT always use the Club access sheets as well. This is essential for our main track-and-trace mechanism.

Please remember the current social distancing rules, keep washing your hands regularly and don’t come to the Club if you are feeling unwell at all. And remember as colder, winter conditions arrive, to wrap up warmly, paddle safely and within your ability. If the river is on red (see the notice at the top of the stairs at the club), you may ONLY go out in Club equipment with a Level-2 or 3 coach. If the river is on amber, you still need to take a great deal of care and preferably go out in a group of three.

Happy paddling.