This year’s Canoe England Coaching Conference proved another very worthwhile event. The programme was opened by Deb Pinniger who gave us an inspirational address on her journey into paddlesport and the open-minded generosity of those who shared, and continue to share, their experience, learning and ideas with her.
Deb’s key themes were the importance of autonomy (being able to determine our own actions) and agency (using that autonomy positively to change the direction of our lives) in everyone’s development. The presentation was littered with anecdotes and references to the many great people Deb has paddled with over the years but one in particular stood out; she shared with us the story of how she had met the legendary Dave Manby when she was just 20 and how he had trusted and valued, despite her relative youth, her judgement both on the river and as a reviewer of the book he was writing at the time.
As Deb said, it was these and similar small actions of respect by Dave and others that helped build her confidence and lead her on the path she has paddled to co-create Watermark Experiences, a community interest company which provides expedition experiences for young people and training for the next generation of river leaders.