From Fear to Freedom

A Journey to Mental Health Recovery Through Kayaking

Kayaking is a fantastic activity for people of all ages and abilities. It’s a great way to stay active, explore nature, and spend time with friends and family. But did you know that kayaking can also have significant mental health benefits? For people struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, kayaking can be an excellent tool for improving mood, reducing stress, and building confidence.

As someone who has struggled with mental health issues for many years, I can attest to the powerful impact that kayaking can have. Like many others with social anxiety, the thought of attending a new social situation was terrifying. The fear of being judged, rejected or humiliated can be overwhelming and can lead to avoidance behaviours. Despite these fears, I decided to push through and attend the first session at my local canoe club (Deva Canoe Club). It wasn’t easy, and I felt nervous and out of place at first. But as I got to know the other members of the club and saw how supportive and encouraging they were, my anxiety began to dissipate.
Kayaking provided a safe and supportive environment that allowed me to gradually build my confidence and overcome my social anxiety. Being out in nature and engaging in a shared activity helped to create a sense of camaraderie and connection that made it easier for me to open up and be myself. Over time, as I improved my kayaking skills and made new friends, I found that my social anxiety began to diminish.

But the benefits of kayaking for mental health extend beyond just social anxiety. Kayaking is also an excellent way to reduce stress and improve mood. The rhythmic motion of paddling can have a calming effect on the mind, helping to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Being out in nature and surrounded by the beauty of the water can provide a sense of peace and tranquillity that is hard to find in our busy, modern lives. Moreover, kayaking can provide a sense of accomplishment and mastery that can be particularly important for people struggling with depression. Setting goals and working towards them, such as improving your paddling technique or completing a challenging course, can give a sense of purpose and boost self-esteem. The sense of control and empowerment that comes from mastering a new skill can be a powerful antidote to the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that often accompany depression.

In conclusion, kayaking is an activity that offers not only physical benefits but also significant mental health benefits. By providing a safe, supportive and empowering environment, kayaking can help to reduce social anxiety, improve mood and boost confidence. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, consider giving kayaking a try – you may be surprised at just how much it can help.

Thanks for reading!
I’m Mathew Sefton, and kayaking has been a
transformative experience for me. It’s helped me
manage my mental health and opened up a
whole new world of adventure and friendship. I
encourage anyone struggling with mental health
issues to give kayaking a try. Who knows, it could
be the beginning of a life-changing journey.

Newsletter, July 21st 2023

Monday Night’s at Northgate

After many years of service our club President, Peter Cook, has decided to step down from his role at Northgate Arena on Monday nights. Peter will continue with his other presidential commitments for Deva CC at the Riverside and behind the scenes representing the club at meetings and events.

Pool kayaking provides a clean, comfortable environment for beginners to learn basic strokes and rescue techniques, and for experienced paddlers to revisit and refine their skills.

Since 1976, (yes, that’s 47 years!), Peter has encouraged and coached countless Deva members in making progress and laying the foundation for getting out onto rivers and the sea. He has also encouraged many casual pool kayakers to join Deva Canoe Club.

Pool sessions will, of course, still be available on Mondays (and Tuesdays), but Peter’s presence will be greatly missed. I am sure we all agree that he deserves to put his feet up on Monday nights. Thank you, Peter!

River Dee Assembly; Clear Waters

As a British Canoeing “Champion Club” for Clear Access Clear waters we have a commitment to work for improving water quality. We are just one of many river users who wish to see reductions in pollution levels and in particular the discharge of untreated sewage by combined outflows. There are six CSO (combined sewage outflows) locations in Chester. For much of the time they will only discharge surface rainwater, but after prolonged or heavy rain when the system cannot cope with the volume, sewage and rainwater will be released.
On Friday 14th July I attended the River Dee assembly, a forum put together by Chester MP, Sam Dixon.
Welsh Water are setting up an alert system which will appear on their web site soon and give real time information about the duration and location when discharges occur, though not volume of the discharge. In the medium and long term Welsh water are aiming to improve the infrastructure and capacity of drains, but there is no commitment to eliminate them completely.
Our local council, Cheshire West and Chester, are supporting the application by Barry Johnstone of the Chester Frosties swimming group in applying for bathing water status for the Dee. There is now a Facebook page “Clean Dee” where you can keep up with developments (or lack of them).
Despite the fact this is the middle of the bathing season (May to Sept.) the government have moved the goalposts to make it much harder for a river to be designated as a bathing water. We now must prove that on 2 days there were over 100 people swimming. Other river users (e.g., kayakers) do not count, despite the fact this is an immersion sport. Campaigns, Emails, letters, and social media petitions are all ways we can influence water companies, decision makers and politicians. I know many Deva members already do this, but I would urge everyone to make their views known and help keep up the momentum to improve our river environments.
There are also actions we can take at an individual level. Blockages in the drains can make the situation worse. Only put the 3 P’s down toilets, (pee, poo and paper), not wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds etc. Welsh Water have reports of fat bergs, traffic cones, underwear, and mobile phones being removed which were reducing the capacity of Chester’s drains to cope!
We can also improve the ability of drains to cope by delaying run-off after rainfall events. Installing water butts on downpipes and using permeable surfaces (not concrete) where possible on new driveways and patios are two examples of individual actions. Within the whole catchment area various groups as well as CWaC are investigating creating and reinstating wetlands which also reduce peak flows. All these ideas will become increasingly important as the frequency of storm events due to become more pronounced.

Public Safety on the River Dee

As kayakers and canoeists we are very aware that waterways and rivers can be places of danger. Whenever the temperature rises, so do the number of casual swimmers and people unaware of factors such as cold water shock, panic, and entrapment on underwater objects.
The Dee assembly gave me the opportunity to talk to Vanessa Griffiths, responsible for river safety for CWaC, to discuss the possible installation of public throwlines along the river bank with basic instruction boards instead of the current infrequently placed life buoys which are difficult to use effectively and are often misused.
Our background in safety and rescue puts us in a useful position to help advise with aspects of keeping the wider community safe on or near the water.

Improved Access and Egress to the Weir

I have also started a conversation with Vanessa Griffiths the state of the egress steps by the Old Dee Bridge below the weir. She shares our concerns that these have become dilapidated and has agreed to assess the site and discuss ideas. Earl days, but hopefully we can work together to renovate or replace the steps and improve access and egress.

Welcome Team

At Deva Canoe Club we aim to be a safe and welcoming place for newcomers, including people who have no previous experience of paddlesports. We achieve this by having a dedicated team of individuals who make up our ‘welcome team’ at every club meeting.
As we are now in the middle of the summer season, a huge THANK YOU to all who help with administration, kitting out and coaching at the Riverside. Your commitment and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated and help us to achieve this aim.
If you are interested in becoming a team member and can contribute to the running of club meetings, please have a word with me or any member of the committee.

Training and Trips

Some of our members have recently completed training to start their journey into coaching and leading. Others have also taken or renewed Outdoor First Aid qualifications. Congratulations to all involved, and thanks to Ray McCann for organising them.
Thanks also to Colin Hayward for running a series of safety sessions at Colwyn Bay for sea kayakers. Introducing and improving techniques, using equipment, and building an awareness of safety at sea build confidence and abilities which enable participants to take on more challenging trips in the future.

John Lewis,
Chair, Deva CC

Newsletter, October 2022

Action on Pollution and Water Quality

Anyone regularly involved in paddle sports either on rivers, lakes, canals or at coastal locations will be aware of the polluted state of many waterways. Plastic and general detritus are the obvious signs, as evidenced by the volume and variety of objects retrieved from our river clean events organised by Steve Cartney. Paddlers are also aware that on many occasions water quality is compromised by pollution
from sewage, agricultural run-off and some industries. For many years rivers have been used as convenient drains. As a club we are especially concerned with the risks to health posed by raw sewage outflows into the Dee potentially raising the levels of bacteria harmful to human health. The sewerage system in many older parts of towns and villages (pre-1970’s in general) is linked to the rainwater system. When rainfall events occur the combined drains cannot cope and to prevent sewage backing up and flooding streets and homes some is released into our rivers. This is supposed to happen in ‘exceptional circumstances’ according to the Environment Agency, but in Chester a rainfall event of 4-5 mm is often enough to result in combined sewer outflows releasing sewage into the Dee. (4-5 mm may fall as heavy rain, but hardly an exceptional event in North-West England!).

Who Is Responsible?

Discharges into rivers are the responsibility of water companies, in the case of the Dee this is Welsh Water. Their work is monitored by the Environment Agency, an industry regulator, in England and Natural Resources Wales in Wales. When they expect outflows containing sewage will be released they inform Surfers Against Sewage.

Safer Seas and Rivers App

Surfers Against Sewage put all their reports onto an app. It can be downloaded and opened on your phone. Search in your app store for ‘ Safer Seas and Rivers Service’ or click the links below. You can then see where spillages occur and see the history of a location.

What is Deva Canoe Club doing?

Recent publicity prompted reaction in the local press. On behalf of the club I wrote to Louse Gittins(Chair of CWaC), Chris Matheson (MP), Jamie Christon (CEO Chester Zoo) and Katrin Kerr (Chair, Chester BID) expressing our support for their public statements calling for river quality improvements. I also forwarded copies to as many other clubs and groups involved with water sports on the Dee.

As a result I was invited to take part in two online meetings. The first set up by Katrina Kerr was with Steve Wilson who is responsible for drainage and sewage for Welsh Water. He proved to be very open, and conceded that there is much to do and that the Dee should be a priority. The second meeting was for a Water Pollution Task Group set up by our local authority (Cheshire West and Chester). Councillors and council officials wanted to take evidence and hear the opinions of environmental interest groups and river users. I found it reassuring that our elected representatives have major concerns and wish to see action to improve river quality. I have listed the future actions we at Deva would like to see below.

Our Vision and Ideas for making Progress

To achieve a cleaner, healthier environment.
To achieve bathing water status representation has to be made to central government. Currently 2 local authorities, one on the R. Tamar and a council in Oxfordshire are aiming to get waterways designated as bathing waters.
This requires surveys and counts of river users to justify that a designation is desirable. In the meantime we would like to see;

  • Improved data collection and dissemination by Welsh Water. Currently sewage spills are reported, but with no indication of severity, volume etc.
  • Setting of ambitious targets by WW to reduce the number of overspills year on year
  • Infrastructure improvements to achieve these targets
  • Awareness raising in the general population and work with other stakeholders (e.g.
  • land owners and industry) to improve water quality
  • Co-ordinating interest groups to achieve further improvements and a cleaner river, e.g. plastic pollution, removing invasive species etc.
  • Information sharing and co-ordination with organisations like The Welsh Dee Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, British Canoeing, etc to become part of the wider national movement
  • Supporting schemes such as wetland restoration to slow down run-off and infiltration rates, and discouraging laying of impermeable surfaces which increase run-off rates
  • Raising awareness in the general public of the problem

News Letter August 14th 2022

Successfull Bid

I am pleased to announce that we have been successful in making a bid for a bursary from our national governing body, British Canoeing, The bursary scheme targets leadership and coaching. We will now be able to run some training courses at a subsidised rate.

Getting Into Coaching and Leadership

Leading trips and coaching new paddlers can be a very rewarding experience. Seeing new members from all walks of life make rapid progress, encouraging people to become safe, independent paddlers, and fostering a love for adventure and the natural environment give leaders and coaches a great sense of worth.

In the next 12 months we are planning to run Paddlesport Leader Award training and assessment for 6 active members.

Every club relies on volunteers, and I hope you will consider training to become part of the club coaching team.

You do not need to be an expert on ‘gnarly’ grade 5 whitewater to become a coach or leader! At the higher levels, most paddlers learn from challenging themselves in peer groups and possibly using professional coaches. For beginners and intermediate paddlers we need people who can coach or assist a coach at the Riverside Centre and possibly, but not necessarily, plan touring trips on sheltered water. The club can offer mentoring and guidance to support new coaches and leaders.

Is It For Me?

YES! If….

  • If you want to get into coaching and need to take the first step…or..
  • If you are already a Deva Club approved coach, but have no formal qualification, this is an opportunity for you to gain a British Canoeing qualification….or…
  • If you enjoy sharing your love of paddlesports with others…or..
  • If you have some personal skills and experience but feel you don’t know enough about safety and assessing risk.
  • It’s open to all paddlesport disciplines. Your preferred craft could be kayak, sea kayak, canoe, SUP, sit-on-top, or a mix of the above!

Need More Info?

We are hoping to get a group of about six to undergo training for British Canoeing’s Paddlesport Leader Award. For full details go to:

Are there any prerequisites?

No- though for the award you do need to be a member of British Canoeing to qualify, and will need to hold a First Aid qualification if you don’t already have one.

What is the time commitment?

Training will be locally based taking 2 days, (probably over a weekend), and assessment will be either one or two days, depending on the provider. We aim to run both training and assessment during the next 12 months.

How much will it cost me?

As we will be employing a professional provider for the course and assessment, we are asking participants for £50 for the training week-end and £50 for an assessment week-end. This is heavily subsidised as you will be aware if you have done any courses or days with a professional coach. However, we do not wish to exclude any Deva member, so have word with Ray McCann or Simon Carver (treasurer) if your personal financial circumstances would prevent you from putting your name forward.

What’s the Catch?

There is none! You will have a great experience learning from a professional, and be able to help others start their journey into paddle sports. In return the club will expect you to put your new skills into practice by either coaching or helping at the Riverside, or planning and leading trips.

Next Steps…

Ray McCann (Deva Coaching Co-Ordinator) is in conversation with some local training providers to sort out dates. In the meantime, you can register an interest (without obligation) with Ray by sending an email to the club email address.

Important announcement regarding Thursday evenings at the Riverside Centre

Thank you to all who were present last Thursday and the way in which everyone helped us to be off site by our allocated time of 20:30.
Due to ongoing site issues we would appreciate, with immediate effect and until the end of September, if you come off the water in sufficient time, but no later than 

20:00 please, to allow us all to lock-up and be away on time.
We hope to be able to negotiate a longer session for next year’s Thursday nights.

Thank you for your support.

Happy paddling

Deva CC Officers.

Important announcement regarding Sunday afternoons at the Riverside Centre

On our Sunday afternoon paddles at the Riverside Centre, we are required to completely vacate the site by 15:30 as another club is scheduled to use it shortly after.
It would be appreciated that you come off the water in sufficient time, but no later than 15:00 please, to allow us all to lock-up and be away on time.
Apologies for the short session time, we hope to be able to negotiate a longer session after September.

Thank you for your support.

Happy paddling

Deva CC Officers.

It shouldn’t be in the Dee: Sewage pollution

We have been contacted by the Welsh Dee Trust, an environmental charity caring for the River Dee asking us to share their upcoming sewage pollution workshop with you:

It’s a topic that affects all paddlers on the Dee, so may well be of interest to you. Unfortunately for those who attend Northgate pool sessions on Mondays there is a clash as I imagine it will overlap with travel and changing time, but it would be good if other members were informed about the Trust’s work.

If you follow the above link you can register for the event for free.

Northgate Arena Pool Kayaking Sessions

Northgate Arena Pool Kayaking Sessions

As you may be aware kayak sessions are recommencing on Monday nights at Northgate Arena, albeit in a limited way to begin with. Please note that these sessions are run by Brio Leisure, not Deva Canoe Club. The club provides free coaching. Policies and prices are set by Brio.
At present there are no Tuesday sessions as there were pre-Covid, though these may restart in the future.

Notes For New Members

Monday sessions run from 8.00-9.00 p.m. after swimming finishes. All equipment is provided (kayaks and paddles) you are not allowed to bring in your own boat or paddle. All you need to bring is swim wear, a t-shirt or rash vest and towel. The sessions are held in the main pool and to get onto the water without delay we ask those attending to meet changed and ready on the poolside for 7.45.

To All Members

There is now a limit on attendance, the maximum allowed is 18. The sessions are not exclusively for Deva members and are open to the general public. I am told you can book online through the Brio web site and you do not need to have Brio membership to do so. You can also pay at the desk on the night, but if there are 18 people already booked in you will be refused entry.
Due to coach availability Deva CC can only provide limited coaching for the next two weeks.
Deva members can access a discount on the price of entry with a signed form, existing discount card holders can use them, but new discount cards will not be available for next week.


Deva CC holds the view that the cost of pool sessions for one hour is high (compared for example to swimming sessions). We are aware that the pricing policy will restrict access to those of limited finances and may deter people who just want a try-it-out session. We will continue to lobby Brio for lower prices or at least for limited future price rises. As stated before policies and prices are set by Brio, not Deva CC.

Sunday Sessions at the Riverside

Finally a reminder that Thursday evening paddles from the Riverside have now finished until they resume next spring. Our Sunday meetings are fortnightly starting this Sunday (10th Oct) at 1.00 p.m.

Kim’s year of challenges

Kim’s year of challenges

Kim Hanbury contacted Deva CC about her fundraising challenge in memory of her father, next Wednesday, 22nd Sept, Kim and John Lewis will paddle from Farndon to Chester Weir and back to Sandy Lane, launching in Farndon at 10.00 a.m.

Back in January I decided to take the year to raise money for Darent Valley Hospital who have cared for my Dad for the past 5 years. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer and throughout the 5 years and 54 rounds of chemotherapy, the staff who cared for him were incredible. They’re heroes of another level. My family and I were constantly blown away by the efforts they went to in caring for him and trying to prolong his life. Each month I have done something new and different and challenged myself to new heights – from cycling 150 kms in one day, to rowing a marathon and hiking Hadrian’s Wall – I have managed to so far raise just over £4,000.Unfortunately, my Dad lost his battle in June of this year but together with my family – we decided to keep the challenges going to see the year out, and continue to try and raise as much as we can for this incredible hospital.It would have been his 68th birthday on September 22nd, so I saw it only fitting to paddle 22kms on the river. ’22 for 22′. My Dad loved rivers so it seems like the right challenge to do for this month. If anyone from the club wants to join in on the challenge – please do come along!

Kim Hanbury

If you wish to sponsor Kim then please click here to visit her JustGiving page

Newsletter, September 11th, 2021

Newsletter, September 11th, 2021

Stop-Start at the Riverside

September has been a rather frustrating month for Deva CC. After all the disruption of the last 18 months we were getting back to something like normal when many of our Riverside sessions were cancelled. There have been two causes; the rowing club informed us at short notice of two Sunday events which meant we could not get onto the site, and secondly, we were given short notice by the site administrator that the concrete apron in front of the boat bays was being replaced. Unfortunately, this work went on for much longer than we were led to believe, a shortage of materials and replacement of a broken pipe were given as reasons for the delay.

I understand the disappointment and frustration this may have caused members which I can assure you is shared by the club officers.

In the long term, and hopefully to minimise disruption we have asked for an active user group to be set up so that we are given advanced notice of changes to bookings and can plan accordingly.

We have been told that the pontoon will be repaired or replaced ‘sometime in October’. We hope this will not mean further cancelled sessions. Our Thursday evening meetings will have finished by then, but we will still be meeting fortnightly on Sunday afternoons throughout the winter.

Trips Resumed

On a much more positive note, we have run several trips since re-opening including sea trips in the Conwy estuary, a paddle to Hilbre Island, and Llandudno to Colwyn Bay and back. We have had an introduction to white water day at Mile End Mill and a tour on the Trent in Staffordshire.

Later this month we have another Mile End Mill session and in November our Lake District Weekend.

We are always open to ideas for paddling trips. If you would like to get into leading club trips, then have a word with one of the officers. Similarly, if you would like to help coaching beginners, or just assisting a coach to see what its like then make yourself known.

As well as official club trips I know there has been lots of peer group activity, please continue to use the ‘Deva Kayakers and Friends’ Facebook page to promote these.

Russell Cleans Up!

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, Russell Allmand collected several bags of litter from the Dee in Chester one evening recently- most of it plastic by the look of it. Thanks Russell, it seems like a never-ending task, but every plastic bottle removed and recycled means one less in the ocean.

Thank You

Finally, a huge ‘thank you’ to all the leaders, coaches, assistants, and to my fellow officers who have continued to contribute to the day-to-day running of the club during a time of growth in membership whilst coping with some challenging circumstances.

Photo Competition

Photo Competition

For something different in 2021 we are holding a photo competition and Deva’s chief paparazzi, Terry Hudson, has kindly offered to judge it.
Photos must be of a Deva event in 2021 and reflect the paddling activities we do.

Peter Cook (Club President) has already submitted one photo of a soggy Secretary but thankfully, as a club officer, he can’t be judged!
Peter’s caption was “Nobody told me this was a wet sport”

There’s no prize but the one judged to best represent Deva’s activities will be used on the front page of our 2021/2022 annual report published in April 2022. Five runners-up will be posted on Facebook and there will be a ‘like’ vote to select the ‘members choice’ to be displayed on our FB page.

The rules are:

  • No more than 2 photos per member
  • must be your own work
  • Must of been taken in 2021
  • Must be in Landscape
  • No photoshop work please!

Feel free to include a caption too.

All pictures will be displayed on our website and the closing date will be 31 November 2021 (after our Lakes weekend).

By submitting your photo(s) you give permission for them to be used by Deva CC, displayed on the Deva CC website and be named in the annual report.
We are conscious that other club members could be seen in these shots and you have our assurance that you will not be identified.
Please submit all photos by attaching in a reply to the email regarding the competition.

Happy snapping!

Newsletter, July 6th 2021

Newsletter, July 6th 2021

What SUP Deva?

Have you tried Stand Up Paddleboarding? Thanks to Rosie Diver Deva members are being offered the chance to learn from the best.

Jess Philip is a qualified white water SUP coach with years of experience in all forms of paddle sports coaching. She is a world class kayaker, and one of the UK’s leading SUP coaches. Currently she is a #shepaddles ambassador for British Canoeing and the female lead for the Scottish Canoe Association’s equality group.

SUP is her recent focus in paddling (Oh my word you should see her tackle huge water in a kayak!) where she has been working on pushing what rivers can be successfully paddled on a SUP and the best coaching practices for river SUP skills.  

This is a rare opportunity to work with Jess as she is based in Scotland & doesn’t come this far south to coach very often.

Jess will be running two 3 hour sessions in Chester on Thursday July 22nd

Beginners session – introduction to SUP  – for total newbies to SUP. 9-12. Meet at Sandy Lane Car Park & slipway.   £40 for the session, includes SUP and paddle, wetsuit and buoyancy aid as well as instruction.

For those who are ready to try a bit more excitement, SUP intro to moving water session, 22 July. 1-4:30 Again Meet Sandy Lane Car Park. £40 for the session includes SUP, paddle, wetsuit hire, buoyancy aid and helmet.

For these sessions, please contact Rosie at  who will get folks booked on.

Jess is also happy to bring her boards along to our club night on the same evening and is offering a “come and try” session. This will be a much shorter session, and we are asking members who wish to take part pay £10 weekly subs instead of your usual £3. For the club session please let me know either by email or on Thursday night.

Help clean up our river and reduce pollution

Help clean up our river and reduce pollution

Postponed until 3rd June due to high river levels

On Thursday 20th May we are holding a river clean-up during our evening meeting.

As water sports enthusiasts we are all aware of how litter, and particularly plastic pollution, can detract from a day out on the water and also its negative impact on the environment and wildlife, and anything in our rivers will end up in the sea or on beaches.

A week on Thursday we are joining in with the Surfers Against Sewage national Million Mile Clean campaign by picking up litter from the Dee in Chester.
Our meeting will run as normal, but we are looking for 10-20 people to collect litter that they see. it is probably easier to do this from an open canoe, SUP or sea kayak, but there’s no reason why a short kayak could not accompany a canoe and work as a pair.

We have some protective gloves and reusable collection sacks, but if you have a litter grabber and your own thich gloves please bring them.

We will brief those taking part on the night, but note that we will not be asking people to pick up any hazardous material, or collect litter that is trapped in hazardous locations. If the weather is unsuitable or river flow is high and flowing quickly we will postpone the litter pick to a day when conditions are better.

You do not have to sign up for this, but to help planning please let me know this Thursday if you want to help out, or reply to this email.

As well as cleaning a section of the River Dee we hope our actions will highlight the problem of litter and plastic pollution to the local community.

See the attached flyer. Happy Paddling!

John L

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Development Planning for the Future

Development Planning for the Future

8 Strategic Targets for a five year plan

During the period of lock-down in the 2021 Covid pandemic, the officers of the club agreed to develop a strategic plan to promote Deva CC to renew and encourage policies which will ensure long term security and survival. In a changing world where many things, including paddle sports are evolving, we need to stay relevant to the needs of the paddlers and engage with the local community.
Here is a summary of the Deva Development Plan, and the means by which we can measure success:

  1. Increase participation and membership.
    The number of members dropped during the close down, we aim to recover to pre-pandemic levels by holding taster days, resuming pool kayaking sessions, and recruiting new members.
    Evidence for this will be in our membership records and age profile.
  2. Strengthen Community Links.
    Strengthen the relevance of Deva to the local community and make clear our value as an asset in improving physical and mental health. We will investigate the possibility of links with NHS mental health initiatives. Community action can also involve supporting charities and other events (e.g. Dee Mile Swim) and holding river clean events.
    The annual report and calendar will be used as evidence to assess progress.
  3. Further Develop Communications.
    Raise the club profile with the members and general public through the media. The re-designed Deva web site is a much improved asset. We now wish to use social media and community notice boards to inform the wider community of our activities.
    Evidence can be the number of reports of Deva’s activities and number of web site hits.
  4. Grow the leadership and coaching team
    To achieve our aims and ensure long-term survival Deva needs coaches and committee members. We need to identify those willing to join the Welcome Team to help beginners at club Riverside sessions. We also need to encourage those who wish to get into coaching and leading on rivers or sea. To achieve this we can promote personal awards and coaching courses (both internal club courses and external BC approved courses).
    Evidence will be the number of active coaches and leaders and a succession of members on the Welcome Team and committee.
  5. Support New and Intermediate Paddlers
    We feel there is a need to hold more ‘touring’ events on lakes, canals etc suitable for a mixture of craft (“cakes and lakes” to quote one member) as well as whitewater trips. A local “Where to Paddle” page on the web site for members would be helpful.
    To achieve this we will need more trip proposals and trip leaders.
    Success will be judged on the variety recorded on the club calendar and number of peer group paddles as well as official club trips.
  6. Increase Diversity
    The profile of the club is currently skewed with more males than females, and an increasing average age. There are new trends in paddlesports which if we encourage will appeal to a wider section of the population and diversify our membership, for example SUP and SOT. We also wish to organise “She Paddles” events. To achieve this we need “She Paddles” organisers.
    Evidenced by a She Paddles event, increase in % female members, and greater diversity of craft.
  7. Work towards greater sustainability and environmental responsibility
    Our sport immerses us in our immediate environment (sometimes literally!), we wish to see clean, healthy rivers and seas and also to act in socially responsible ways to eliminate waste and pollution. Use of single use plastic cups at Riverside meetings should be discontinued when the current stock are used up. The club should support campaigns to reduce litter and pollution of the Dee. Pressure can be brought to bare on water authorities and government agencies and departments to stop sewage discharges into the river, and work towards designating the Dee in Chester bathing water. We should seek to engage with other river users, e.g. Tri-club, swimming club, SAS etc.. Appointment of an Environmental Co-ordinator would help drive this forward.
    Progress will be measured in water quality statistics, and events logged on the calendar.
  8. Secure our place at the Riverside Centre and work to help improving facilities.
    The Riverside Centre is in need of refurbishment or renewal. We need to negotiate and work with Cheshire West and Chester (the site owners) and Queens Park School (who manage the site) to negotiate licences to continue our tenancy. We also wish to contribute towards plans to improve the centre building and facilities.
    Progress on this can be reviewed in the annual report.

How can we achieve our aims? (The really important bit!)
To achieve our aims we need two things;
1. That the members agree with the aims and buy into the plans
2. Members are willing to take on roles and help out with the work needed.
This does not mean we need meetings and committee work, many of the tasks are practical and specific. We will need action not words!
Please re-read the aims again. Is there an area you are interested in or would be willing to work on? If we organise action days (for example, a river clean) would you be willing to help out? Please feel free to discuss the aims with me or any of the club’s officers. If you think there are other aims we should include over the next 5 years then let us know.
We will report back on the progress we have made each year in the annual report and at the AGM.
John Lewis, Deva CC Chair

Return To Paddling!

Return To Paddling!

And now for some good news… we are restarting weekly club activities on Thursday evenings on  April 1st at 6.00p.m., and fortnightly meetings on Sunday April 11th at 1.00p.m. We will be following the advice from British Canoeing to make sessions as Covid safe as we can.

This means we will not be able to access the changing rooms, so please arrive changed and keep a change of clothes in your car. Please leave a contact number when signing in for track and trace, and if you use club equipment clean touch points at the end of the session. Hand sanitiser will also be available. We will not be able to provide tea and coffee, so bring your own. Aim to get onto the water promptly to avoid gathering in groups in front of the Centre and on the jetty.

At present the ‘stay local’ rules still apply so we will not be organising any trips that involve travel out of the area.

Taking it easy…

We are aware that many members may not have done much canoeing or kayaking this year, so we urge a gentle return to the water. Even the most experienced paddlers can become ‘rusty’, so spend the initial sessions re-building your fitness and skills. We don’t want to be burdening the NHS with sprains and strains caused by over exertion. For new and inexperienced paddlers, please don’t take unnecessary risks. Stay within your ability zone until you are ready to tackle more challenging situations.

Fundraising for a Defibrillator at Mile End Mill. 

Public Access Defibrillators save lives and a fundraising campaign has been started to purchase one for the Mile End Mill whitewater site at Llangollen.  This will have 24/7 access, so can be used by anyone at any time, even when TNR’s site buildings are closed.  Once the fundraising target is reached the defibrillator will therefore be a great asset to all users of the river and also to the local community.

The Mile End Mill site is used regularly by Deva club members both as individuals and for club activities, so it would be great if we can support this fundraising campaign.

We will be making a donation from club funds towards this, but we are also asking members to support this with individual donations. To give directly to the appeal please follow this link
Fundraiser by Tom Robinson : Public access AED at Mile End Mill (

Thanks to David Riley and Alan Reay for alerting us to this appeal.

Many Happy Returns to Paddling! Deva Canoe Club.

News Letter January 12th 2021

News Letter January 12th 2021

Happy New Year to all!

So, here we are again in lock-down with club meetings and trips suspended. You probably are aware of what you can and cannot do. However here is a reminder of how to stay safe and to help protect others. Deva members are asked to abide by the following information which is taken from the British Canoeing web site;

Paddling for exercise is permitted within the government measures, so long as you are: 

  • By yourself
  • with the people you live with 
  • with your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare 
  • when on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing.

Staying Safe

At this time of national lockdown British Canoeing encourages all of our members to paddle responsibly and follow the government guidelines at all times, when paddling for exercise.

Our priority remains to protect the health of our members and the paddlesport community, to help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

We fully advocate staying safe on the water particularly during the winter months.

Individual paddlers should restrict their paddlesport activities to environments which are well within their capabilities, alert friends and family to their activity and predicted return times, and ensure they have a means to call for help with them at all times.Paddlers should be fully prepared for winter conditions. A guide to staying safe during winter paddling is available on the British Canoeing Go Paddling website.

The advice from British Canoeing about covid restrictions applies to England. Members who live in Wales are of course under different regulations as specified by the Welsh Assembly. Regulations about exercise outdoors for Welsh members can be found here.

Club Committee and Annual General Meeting

Due to the pandemic restrictions we have taken the decision not to hold face-to-face meetings. Officers’ and committee meetings will be held by Zoom if and when they are needed. We have decided to postpone the AGM which is usually in early April (yes, I know it’s a highlight of your year). However, our club secretary, Keith, is burning the midnight oil compiling the annual report which will email out for your consideration, we will then invite comments and questions to officers based on the report.

In Other News… (Yes, there is some)….

The club officers have met by Zoom to look at future plans. Peter and Keith are working with the aim of securing our long term occupancy of the Riverside Centre. This will be important if refurbishments and improvements to the building are made in the future. 

Future Meetings and Trips

Through Facebook we asked ‘Post-lockdown, what trips would you like to see?’ Thanks to all those who have responded we have lots of ideas from touring on canals, to estuary and coastal trips as well as whitewater days for beginners, intermediate and experienced paddlers. Anyone not on Facebook can email the club to make trip suggestions. Alan Reay (our safety officer) is always interested in hearing from members willing to lead and organise trips.

Despite the limited meeting schedule in recent months, our membership has grown. We are aware that without pool sessions new members in particular have not had access to capsize and rescue practice. We aim to put in a safety session as soon as we can meet again and when river and weather conditions are suitable.

Your Tips, Trips and Links

We know that though limited, some members have still been able to get out and exercise. To keep up with what people are doing, you could join our Facebook group. It’s a closed group, so no junk ads, just content related to paddlesports.

This link should take you to the Deva Kayakers and Friends page. You will have to request to join. Once accepted you can see what members are up to.

If you are already a member of the group, please keep us up to date with photos or notes of your paddling. Post onto the page any paddle related links, photos, tips, kit and book reviews, and let us know how you are keeping fit at home. (Anyone slalom down a staircase?  Roll a kayak in the lounge without breaking any ornaments? Practice polling on a skateboard?).

Looking Forward

As you can see, as a club we have lots to look forward to, even if we are restricted for now. If anyone is stuck at home alone or isolated and needs practical help or just a chat, feel free to get in touch via the club email. The email link can also be found on our recently re-designed web site. Any feedback or suggestions about the web site would also be appreciated.

On behalf of all the officers of the club,

Stay safe, look to the future and be positive, best wishes. John L

Newsletter November 10th 2020

Paddling Update

As I am sure you are all aware, our club activities have again been temporarily put on hold by the Covid-19 regulations. Although this may be a source of frustration, especially to new members who do not yet have their own equipment, we need to be mindful that protecting the ability of the NHS to cope in the current circumstances is of great importance.

However, this does not mean that all paddlesports are banned. You can go paddling solo, with members of your household, or with one other individual.

Our Welsh members now have more freedom to get on the water but are still urged not to travel unless the journey is essential.

Outdoor activities are so important to maintain our physical and mental health, so get out on the water, but keep in mind that we are urged by British Canoeing to make sure you paddle in your local area, and only attempt activities well within your ability level. For full details click here

Paddling solo is not without risk, so ensure you have suitable equipment and clothing for winter paddling, check river/ tidal conditions and the weather forecast, carry a mobile phone (in waterproof case!), and inform someone of your plans and expected time of return.

We would certainly encourage Deva members to ‘buddy-up’ and paddle with a friend where possible. You could use the Facebook group to do this.

If you are a new member without your own craft, stick with it! We know it’s been very stop/start but hopefully it won’t be too long before we are allowed to use the Riverside centre again and can return to club meetings and trips.

Deva Canoe Club Web Site

As mentioned in our last newsletter, our website has had a total makeover. It is now easier to navigate, especially on mobile phones. It includes the club calendar, an updated gallery of new and historic photos, links to other paddle sport related sites, and a ‘contact us’ page.

Many thanks to Mat Sefton for using his excellent design and technical skills (as well as many hours of work) to bring this to fruition.

Extra Sunday Sessions

Extra Sunday sessions

Sunday afternoon sessions are usually run fortnightly at the Riverside at this time of year. This year they have proved to be more popular than usual and our membership is growing. To meet this higher level of demand we are now planning to hold club meetings weekly on every Sunday between now and Christmas. STARTING SUNDAY 25th OCTOBER.
Our programme of trips and pool sessions are very restricted at present. Extra Sundays will allow new members increased access to club boats and equipment and help them develop their paddling. For our more experienced paddlers we hope this goes some way in replacing trips you may have planned to rivers in areas under restrictions where we are asked not to travel. We are also aware that at present people need increased support to maintain physical and mental health.


Newsletter, October 21st 2020

Extra Sunday Dates Added

Sunday afternoon sessions are usually run fortnightly at the Riverside at this time of year. This year they have proved to be more popular than usual and our membership is growing.
To meet this higher level of demand we are now planning to hold club meetings weekly on every Sunday between now and Christmas. STARTING THIS SUNDAY 25th OCTOBER.
Our programme of trips and pool sessions are very restricted at present. Extra Sundays will allow new members increased access to club boats and equipment and help them develop their paddling. For our more experienced paddlers we hope this goes some way in replacing trips you may have planned to rivers in areas under restrictions where we are asked not to travel. We are also aware that at present people need increased support to maintain physical and mental health.
When attending the Riverside please keep to the Covid protocols we have in place with signing-in, maintaining social distances, and cleansing of equipment at the end of the session.

Deva Facebook Page

New members may not be aware that we have a Facebook group ,’Deva Kayakers and Friends’. This is a closed group, so you need to ‘request to join’. It means you will not get bombarded with spam adverts, and the content is restricted to posts about the club, its members and paddlesports.

RNLI Donation

This week Deva CC made a donation of £233 to the RNLI. In March we were planning to hold a fish and chip night with a raffle in aid of RNLI. Meanwhile….I think you know the rest… however, all our members who had bought tickets agreed to donate their fee.
Thank you for your generosity

New Paddler Resources

British Canoeing have put together some e-resources on their ‘Paddles Up’ training portal which new members may find useful here
Happy Paddling!