SCHOOL COLUMN: James Calvert Spence College, Amble

The Interact Club kayakers.
The Interact Club kayakers.

At the start of the summer, off the back of a very successful sponsored swim for SHAK, a local dog sanctuary, the Coquet and Aln Interact Group began discussing its next project.

While the swim had raised an impressive £500, the members were up for a proper challenge, something that they could really get their teeth into. It was then that a sponsored kayak was suggested.

Members of the Interact Club of Coquet and Aln which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth seen in photos taken by Rotarian John Young  showing the youngsters during a sponsored Kayak trip down the Coquet from Morwick

Members of the Interact Club of Coquet and Aln which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth seen in photos taken by Rotarian John Young showing the youngsters during a sponsored Kayak trip down the Coquet from Morwick

Living on the coast, it was a sport that everyone was familiar with, but few had ever tried (past the school trips back in first school).

The scale of this project meant that it was possible to support two charities with the money we raised so we chose Hillcrest Aids Centre, a respite centre for people suffering from Aids in Durban, South Africa, and Wishing Well, a charity based in the North East which sponsors children in Ghana.

We aim to raise £1,000 to split between the two charities and are already well on our way to achieving this goal.

Discussions continued and eventually it was decided that the challenge would be to paddle from Morwick to Amble, which we estimated to be about 10 miles.

Members of the Interact Club of Coquet and Aln which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth seen in photos taken by Rotarian John Young  showing the youngsters during a sponsored Kayak trip down the Coquet from Morwick

Members of the Interact Club of Coquet and Aln which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth seen in photos taken by Rotarian John Young showing the youngsters during a sponsored Kayak trip down the Coquet from Morwick

We suggested the idea to Coquet Shorebase Trust, in Amble, which very kindly offered to supply the boats and equipment for the paddle and the Canoe Club helped coach the paddlers in the weeks before and accompanied us on the trip.

Prior to the paddle we had four training sessions where the paddlers were really pushed to their limits.

Paddling upstream, into the wind and against the tide when you’re still figuring out how to go in a straight line, is no mean feat. In the first week, we were based at Ladyburn Lake, where the paddlers were able to get comfortable in the kayaks in more sheltered conditions. It’s also a warmer location for the compulsory capsize drills which were ever so well received...not!

From then on, we were based in Amble, meeting every Sunday at 10am and improving drastically along the way.

By week three, everyone had progressed to wearing spraydecks and they were all starting to look like proper paddlers.

What’s more, they all still had smiles on their faces and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Zoe Wilson said: “Having never kayaked before, it was a challenging but hugely rewarding experience. The Trust were really accommodating, helping me learn a new skill and giving us a great opportunity to raise so much money.”

Finally, the big day came around; 29 paddlers and their boats assembled at the Shorebase before being ferried up to Morwick. As a warm-up, some of the club paddlers started playing in the moving water and it was amazing to see how quickly some of our group took to it, following the coaches’ leads and many of them doing spectacularly well.

The paddle was long, though we had a nice lunch break in the sun on the banks of the river at Warkworth, but was completed a full hour ahead of schedule.

All of the weirs were dropped successfully, though there were a few squeals heard along the way, and with only one capsize, it was certainly a successful trip.

For more information on Interact and photos of the paddle, visit www.facebook.com/CAinteract.

If this has inspired you to give kayaking a go, contact Coquet Shorebase Trust on 01665 710367.

Fay Rochester, Year 13