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In Conversation With: Barking & Dagenham Canoe Club

In Conversation With: Barking & Dagenham Canoe Club

Countryside catches up with Scott LeBlanche, Club Chairman of the Barking & Dagenham Canoe Club. Located on the River Roding, the club is just a stone’s throw away from our Fresh Wharf development, meaning the new residents can be out on the water in no time!

How long have you lived in the area?

I have lived next to Barking all my life, 29 years.

Tell us about BAD canoe club

I’ve been involved with the BADCC on and off since 2007. Our canoe club was founded by the late Bob Porter in 1988. He successfully ran the club to a high standard and achieved great things up until his unfortunate passing. In this time, the club produced paddlers that represented Great Britain at international sprint and marathon events. These included Steve Harris, Danny and Kelly Beazley, Nicky Taylor, Lea Pilgrim, Stuart Hayday, Ben Bradshaw and Leanne Brown.

The club has been trying to recreate the success of Bob Porter ever since. John Green and Bill Playle are our main coaches for getting children and adults involved in the sport at the lake in Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham. From there, paddlers can come over to the river in Barking and train to a structured training programme set out by Dave Hallam, an ex-GB marathon paddler.

Up until covid-19, the racing team had been successfully representing the club throughout the country and most notably in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, which is a 125-mile paddle and one of the most famous canoeing events.

What is your favourite thing about the club?  

The people. The club has some of the friendliest people around who make anyone feel welcome. There is always a laugh to be had!

How has the canoe club been adapting to the current covid-19 situation (assuming people can still get involved)? How can local people still get involved with the club?

We were shut for 8 weeks until restrictions were lifted. For members of the club, we have adapted, placing measures in to protect everyone. However, getting in beginners and new people has had to stop. We hope to get up and running ASAP, to get the local community involved.

How do you describe the area to your friends/family?  

The area was in a decline when I was growing up; however, Barking has since been subject to an urban regeneration, most notably along the River Roding with all the housing developments. I would describe the area as one with a good future ahead.

What is your favourite local secret / hidden gem in the area (other than the canoe club!)?

There is a path that runs along the River Roding all the way to the River Thames, which we hardly ever see anyone on. It is a great getaway from the city and you really feel isolated and quiet - somewhere to really zone out and relax. It’s a shame that not too many people use it.

For someone new to the area, how would you suggest they get involved in the community? 

I would say to join the Barking and Dagenham Community Group on Facebook, this is a great way to see what is going on in the area.

What does the word community mean to you?

To me personally, community means the collection of people living in an area, who work together to build relationships, looking out for one other. Working together to the common goal of a safe and friendly environment to live in.