Vote for Lynne!

Left image shows Chris on the water, in a kayak. Right image shows a happy selfie of Chris and Lynne.

Our Paddle Sport Officer Lynne Marie Dale was recently nominated in The Engagement Awards with British Canoeing. This award is in recognition of someone who has gone above and beyond to try to engage paddlers and keep them motivated. Nominations were open to anyone who stepped up to try to keep their club, paddlers, parents and athletes engaged, motivated and feeling part of the community. 

You can vote for Lynne HERE – voting closes tomorrow (22nd November).

Lynne’s work with us here at Blackdog Outdoors is incredible. Every single day of her week is dedicated to helping somebody to access the water and get outdoors. If she isn’t delivering a session in person, she is busy at her desk exploring ways we can increase engagement, get more people involved, break down barriers for those with physical difficulties, and how can we make things comfortable and welcoming for those with Mental Health difficulties. Her enthusiasm and passion for the water is incredibly infectious.

Here at Blackdog, we recently met Chris Nelson. Chris is profoundly deaf and was worried about being able to access our events, with particular concerns for the paddle sport events as he has some complex hearing equipment that needs protecting. Lynne made it her personal mission to facilitate Chris and get him involved, but we’ll leave it up to Chris to tell you about how important people like Lynne are.  

“My name is Chris and I am Profoundly Deaf. The way I communicate, like most deaf people, is physically and visually through a combination of lip-reading and sign language. [British Sign Language or BSL for short. I also wear a Cochlear Implant which is a sophisticated hearing aid device linked to my cochlear and brain which gives me access to a wide range of environmental sounds and voices which can often sound robotic and cacophonous.

Selfie on Chris, in wet-weather gear, on the water, holding a paddle.
Chris Nelson

Like a lot of deaf people I am often faced with barriers and exclusion through hearing people’s lack of deaf awareness and empathy for my disability. This also means I have not always had the same opportunities as hearing people when it comes to being able to have access to or partake in sports or physical activities the same way as hearing people and this in turn leads to my anxiety and worries about social interaction with the hearing world and concerns about communication barriers and having the lack of confidence about taking part and connection with hearing people. 

So, when lovely people like Lynne Dale come along and invest their time and energy into me, it gives me a whole new sense of “can do” confidence in myself and a real sense of achievement in helping me to reach my potential in kayaking / canoeing / paddle board activities. 

An image of a very happy Lynne, kneeling on her stand-up paddleboard, on the water.
Lynne-Marie Dale

2020 will always be the year that robbed us of so much however, on a plus side, back in the Summer, I met lovely Lynne Dale through her association as Paddlesport Officer with Black Dog Outdoors which is a charity promoting mental health and mindfulness in reconnecting people with the great outdoors. And paddle sports be it canoeing, kayaking or SUP is a great way of connecting with the outdoors on the water. I simply love it. There is no other feeling like it. 

It all started last early July with my initial email enquiry with BDO to enquire about attending one of their Paddling Events near my home. I then received a lovely and encouraging email from Lynne that although the event was full, she was going to look into securing an extra canoe for me. Nothing was too much trouble for Lynne and she made sure I had a place secured on one of her Paddling Events and made me feel very welcoming and encouraging to partake in the event despite my initial nervousness and anxiety in meeting new hearing people in an unfamiliar environment, putting myself out of my comfort zone. 

Before the day of the event communication between Lynne and myself was done via emails and text messages and she sent me clear email instructions about what to expect on the day, what to bring, how to get to the venue and also sent me some non-speaking videos of river signals such as “River Right”, “River Left”, “Stop” and “Come to Me”. These vital signs proved to be crucial and really helpful when we are on the water as it meant I would be able to follow Lynne’s visual instructions even from a distance. The more information I had, the better informed and prepared I was of what to expect on the day. 

On Thursday 30th July I arrived at Boroughbridge Marina to be greeted by a very friendly lady who immediately put me at ease and helped me to settle in very quickly and introduced to the other participants in the group. I found Lynne easy to lip-read and understand as she took me through the plans for the day and helped me to kit up. We went over instructions one to one and Lynne answered all my questions. Anything I missed or did not understand she would repeat for me. Lynne was very professional in making sure that my safety was paramount. 

Left image shows Lynne kneeling on her paddleboard, on the water. Right image shows Lynne sat at the waterside, smiling.
Our hard-working, inspirational Lynne.

I had a fabulous day connecting with the outdoors, connecting with new people and making new friendships along the way and practising various paddling techniques and canoeing along the tranquil river with all its natural beauty around us, providing a sense of mindfulness and escapism from everyday worries and the chaotic world we live in today. There’s nothing quite like the freedom of being on water. River, lake or sea. It has this unique ability to both soothe and excite my senses. Few things in life are as therapeutic as messing about on the river. 

Since then I have been on a few Paddlesports events organised by Lynne. She gives up her free time to put on these events and is always enthusiastic in what she does and you can see how much she loves her job and encourages and inspires everybody who attends. I want to say a big thank you to Lynne for giving me the opportunities to try out different paddle sports and finding my niche in kayaking; for encouraging and inspiring me and helping me to improve my paddling techniques. I have since learnt a great deal about dealing with my shortcomings and persevering with new challenges on the water, all thanks to Lynne. I have recently purchased my first kayak and really excited to get out onto the water and have some fun. I am already looking forward to more Paddlesports lessons with Lynne as well as having some fantastic adventures and fun times on the water and making new friendships along the way. Roll on 2021!”

A big thank you to Chris for sharing some of his experiences with us, we can’t wait to get back out there with you in 2021 Chris!!

You can vote for Lynne and show support for the amazing effort she puts in by clicking here.

Voting closes Sunday 22nd November.

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