Making moments of opportunity to Stand Up Proud
The sea is my happy place, so it is ironic that I was born and lived in Coventry - a city smack in the middle of England and which couldn't be further from the sea! Fortunately rivers and lakes also calm my soul and awaken my creativity. This is the beauty of water activities like paddling, they are simultaneously mindful and physical - it's a power combo.
I have sailed, kite surfed and swum outdoors but it wasn't until my 30s that I tried paddling. My love affair with paddling started during Pride Month when Thames Dragons ran an LGBT taster session. I loved it. I felt at home and fully accepted in a way that had not clicked before. The paddling ohana is awesome, it is both supportive and adventurous, perfect for stepping outside your comfort zone - and as we all know, that is where the magic happens! Outrigger Canoeing with the Royal Outrigger Canoe Club introduced me to a strong tribe of women, who trained hard and had each other's back. We raced around the UK and into Europe taking part in races. It was an expensive sport and I was aware of my privilege.
I first tried Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at the Surrey Hills Adventure Company run by the awesome Scott (Skip) Innes. Skip saw my competitive spirit, signed me up to Team SHAC and got me racing, I loved it!! SUP is a new paddle sport and when I explored its history, I decided to dive into the coaching principles and enrolled on a coaching course, I do tend to go all in!! I chose British Canoeing and the Open Water SUP Instructor Qualification. The course was fantastic, I trained lots of people new to paddleboarding whilst I gained the skills and experience required to pass the assessment. I could see the joy and the growth in confidence, the feeling was mutual. I registered my limited company Ripple Rebels and was excited about having my first side hustle and being a SUP coach.
Then came the pandemic and I had time to think.
I was adopted at the age of eight with my biological brother and sister, prior to this we were property of the state and in the care system for four years. At eight years old I had few possessions, I couldn't really read and had not had many exciting experiences. Adoption changed all of this, suddenly I had opportunity and this made all the difference. I could imagine myself in different ways, I could make choices and try new things. Everything felt possible. It took some time to grow my confidence but it was opportunity that paved the way. I took my opportunities, I read all the books I could to improve my reading, I tried lots of new activities and made the most of holidays and moments with new friends. Covid 19 so starkly highlighted the disparity in opportunity, I reflected on my past and who I am now. This strengthened my desire to make moments of opportunity for others and an increasingly strong sense that I could do some epic shizzle through SUP.
Throughout the pandemic I relied on SUP for joyful, mindful and physical moments. It was where I could switch off and where I could connect to my body, it was where I could be still and also where I could move as fast as possible. How could I help others to experience the physical and mental health benefits of SUP? There were no other clubs approaching SUP with this ethos, it was most often sold as a lifestyle or a luxury, with expensive kit and imagery that resonates with only a few. I had no idea what to do next, so I took my thoughts to the Awesome Women's Retreat and thanks to advice from the awesome founders and support from the amazing tribe of women I met there, my thinking became a reality. I hit go on a website, I spoke to fellow paddlers equally as passionate about the benefits of paddling and importantly I asked for help.
I converted Ripple Rebels to a Community Interest Company aimed at helping everybody to stand up proud. We now have five fabulous Directors (Jo Davis, Abbie Orton, Dayna Lowe, Holly Grist and Simon Webster), a growing group of awesome volunteers and a flourishing community club. We are focussed on making SUP accessible for everyone no matter what their level of confidence, self esteem, financial stability. Our business model is to provide costed services for those who can afford it and all the profits benefit those who can't. We also seek out grants to support disadvantaged or under represented groups. We have made moments of opportunity for young people eligible for free school meals through the Holiday Activities and Food programme, SUP introductory courses and concession membership prices, and have loved watching these young people grow in confidence, stand up proud and join our community.
Our partnerships are key to our progress and impact, we are learning as we do and are loving what we are learning. We invite anyone with new ideas to get in touch with us, no idea is too big or too small!!
You can find Ripple Rebels at www.ripplerebels.co.uk, as well as on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only is Lynne Ruddick the founder and director of the community interest company, she is a nurse and works in social innovation, reducing inequalities in access to health and social care. Lynne is passionate about the strength of community in solving social problems. She has also been working on reducing the use of single use plastic through her social enterprise Lose Your Bottle.