Have you ever wondered how Isis Canoe Club started? Or how we have grown over the years? Read on to find out about the origins of your club and our vision for the future.
In 2000 a small group of paddlers known as The Riverside Club decided to move away from the Riverside Centre, which had previously been their home, and become an independent club. The name was changed to Isis thanks to a suggestion from Penny, and Isis Canoe Club was born. The club's main focus was that it was run 'by members, for members' meaning that everyone pitched in to help.
Shawn Ross took the position of Chair, aided by Philip Sowden as our first Treasurer. During the early days members worked on setting up the Club's constitution, running innumerable community taster sessions and obtaining grants to purchase kit, and Kam Raval at Oxford City Council was a great source of help with this matter. Our first armada consisted of six open canoes and ten small kayaks which were stored at Falcon RCC, where our members met. Much help on the coaching side was provided by senior open canoe coach Jed Yarnold and senior kayak coaches Roger Hiley and Tim Gunn. A family/junior section of the club was set up by Charlie Dennis. Known as Isis Stream, this separate section of the club had its own committee and finances. In the true spirit of Isis it was self governed by its members themselves. Members had regular BBQs and paddles on Friday nights and the junior club paddled on Monday evenings. A senior kayak and canoe coach, Pete Farmer, joined us in 2002 and arranged more advanced paddling courses and trips away, allowing Isis CC members to venture further afield. Our horizons were widened further to *include sea kayak trips at symposiums and Andy Proctor's in Dorset.
As membership started to grow a regular newsletter was set up to let members know about forthcoming paddles and other relevant news. During this period, Falcon RCC ran out of room so we rented storage space at the 22nd Oxford Sea Scouts, as the Terry family were members, and this became our new home.
Penny Terry took over the position of Chair in 2002 and continued to develop the club's resources. A container was purchased and installed at Falcon RCC to secure our increasing number of boats. We utilised our links with our local Venture Scout group, training their members to become volunteer coaches, including Simon, Liam, Rob, Chris and Neil, some of whom are still paddling with the club today. Support from Oxford Sports Council and Oxford City Council meant that funds were available to develop this team of coaches, which has expanded over the years as new members have joined the club.
In addition to teaching people to enjoy paddlesports, Isis also built on its links with the local community in other ways. From our first charity paddle from Abingdon to London raising '1000 for prostate cancer, we began providing sessions for brownie and scout groups from around Oxford, training sessions for charity paddlers, and members volunteered as session leaders at Oxfordshire's Aqua Camp. In addition, we started to support for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme by offering a program of training and assessment for expeditions initiated by Philip Sowden, putting in many hours training and developing syllabi.
Let's not forget the reason why the club was originally founded - paddling. We were busy organising and completing lots of sea and river trips supported by Pete Farmer and Jed Yarnold. Trips were organised to French rivers including the Tarn, Ardeche, Allier, Lot and Loire, also the River Spey with a Greek sea kayaking trip to Milos. This program of trips was supplemented by many others culminating in our 2008 exchange trip where six Isis CC paddlers travelled to Post SV Bonn, a club based on the Rhine in Germany. The club had grown exponentially from its initial inception and our fleet of boats was gradually updated and expanded with the introduction of sea kayaks to further increase the range of trips our members could complete. This sadly meant we had too many for the container at Falcon RCC, which we had to give up anyway as the lease had expired. After an interim period when boats were stored on a wooden rack in the Terry family garden, with the agreement of the scouts Penny dreamed up a plan to create more storage space by building an extension to their main garage.
The Watershed, as it has become affectionately known, was designed and built in under a month by a team of 30 Isis members, led by Penny and Kieran Terry and Glynn Carter. This is something of which we are all very proud. It involved many trips to the planners and plant hire, much research and on-site attendance to receive materials and power equipment. Hundreds of pounds were saved on the latter through Russell Clark, a Trainee Level 2 Coach, and his builder's connections. Before we could build, we had to move an earth bank 33 feet long by four feet deep by use of mini digger and hand power!
It was named The Watershed because of the new era it represented - we have over 30 boats and numerous pieces of kit stored there - and also because it was initially rather wet at the 'Blue' end until a better drainage system was installed!
As people have come and gone, the club has changed to suit the skills of its members. Glynn and Helen Carter redefined the family section of the club and changed the name to Isis Source, which continues to meet on Monday evenings. Source has been a fantastic development and is so popular it always has a waiting list.
A reshuffle of committee members in 2008 saw Gwylim Williams take over as webmaster, and Jennifer Roberts took over from Penny as Newsletter Editor and Kit Admiral. As Kit Admiral, Jen organises regular maintenance days, where members are encouraged to help reorganise, clean and care for our boats and kit. Supported by Simon and Gwylim, the premises and our fleet of boats are kept in good working order.
Penny stepped down from being the club Chair in September 2009, after developing Isis's coaches, courses, fleet of boats and project managing the creation of The Watershed - a fantastic legacy.
After two years of helping to run Isis CC as Vice Chair and Coaching Director, Simon Terry became Chair in 2009. From our humble beginnings where a large portion of our activities were quite informally organised, Simon has been involved in some of our key developments in an effort to make this a more efficient and effective club for everyone.
A formal coaching program has grown from one or two courses per year to over eight in both kayak and open canoe. We now offer tuition from introductory paddling skills to more advanced techniques in all recreational paddling disciplines including placid water touring, white water and sea kayaking. Our coaching staff has also grown to include a wide range of kayak and open canoe coaches at various levels. We try hard to nurture our own members' ambitions, rather than relying on external coaches. Jen Roberts and Gwylim Williams became Level 1Paddlesport Coaches, Kate Evans and Kate Wilkinson became Level 2 Open Canoe Coaches, Anna Walmsley, Gabriel Hemery and Sebastian Coombe became Level 2 Kayak Coaches, and Kieran Terry and Simon Terry qualified as Level 3 Kayak Coaches.
An additional reshuffle of committee members has recently seen Liam Challis take over from Andrew Bond as Membership Secretary, and Niamh Martin take over as Club Secretary from Jill Bond.
Simon and Gwylim have worked hard to develop content for the club's website to ensure that the community can see what our club can offer them. With the aid of Jen, the website continues to grow. It is regularly updated and members are encouraged to contribute with trip reports and photos which are further promoted in the newsletter.
We continue to paddle with an exciting program of events planned. Local paddles, sea trips, and Simon's famous Mystery Tours which see us tackling some of Oxford's neglected or forgotten waterways. Jen has organised an expedition down the River Thames from Oxford to London and club members are looking forward to more white water paddling, including the Liffey Descent in Ireland.
Isis CC is a club run by its members, for its members and we encourage them to have as much input as possible through feedback at our AGM, by becoming a committee member, or through helping out at our maintenance days. They are also encouraged to take control of their own development by identifying courses which would benefit our members or simply running trips to ensure they can practice their paddling techniques. With new members we have found more opportunities to improve the club through their energy and enthusiasm so the next ten years will no doubt see Isis CC grow even further.