is British Canoeing jeopardising democracy “in true Soviet style”? You decide - postal vote deadline 22nd March, 2017

British Canoeing is in the midst of a massive shake-up and on 25th March the Board will be outlining a Plan for 2017-2021

much of what the board will propose may well be what Members have wanted for a very long time

at the EGM / AGM the board also propose giving itself the exclusive right to select ALL future British Canoeing Presidents

This is contentious!

Currently the President is determined by a ballot. Any person can be nominated [...] then the decision is made by ballot and announced at the AGM. This system is open and involves all members, but may not necessarily be the best system for determining our new Honorary President Elect/Honorary President every two years - Professor John Coyne CBE Chair, British Canoeing
Professor John Coyne CBE
I write to provide you with some further background to the proposals being made by the Board to the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), taking place on Saturday 25th March. I am aware that these issues are being debated in clubs and through social media. So I am pleased to share the Board’s thinking on these important matters, so that you are fully informed and in the best place to use your votes wisely in person or by using the proxy form process.

Source: An open letter from the Chair of British Canoeing

Open Letter from Andy Train

Dear John,

I write to express my extreme disappointment at the points made in your open letter, the only redeeming features being that the letter was open and you had the courage to put your email address and invite comment [...]

[...] The content of your letter leads me to believe that if the Board achieves its aims at the forthcoming EGM, its next step will be to replace any form of democracy within British Canoeing in favour of the Chinese system of petitioning. Perhaps I'm being over-optimistic expecting that much?

I notice you are not proposing a nominations panel for the position of Life President. Instead, members will be given the choice of whether to vote for or not vote at all - rather like the political systems of many a totalitarian state over the years (which sooner or later always fail).

So a Life President free to make bad decisions for many years, or no decisions and simply attend one lavish reception after another all in the name of British Canoeing, having been appointed by a handful of people who also achieved office without election!

Andy Train


Decision Time

At 2.00pm on Saturday March 25th, British Canoeing will be holding an Extra Ordinary General Meeting @ the Macdonald Manchester Hotel, London Road, Manchester M1 2PG.

If voting at the EGM approves the proposed changes, Members will lose (perhaps forever) the right to nominate and elect their own President. If the changes are defeated, members get to choose between the incumbent, Albert Woods, and his challenger, Ivan Lawler.

Proxy Votes

Any member not wishing to travel to Manchester may nominate an individual who is attending to carry his / her proxy vote. This simply involves returning completed forms to British Canoeing.

Fill in both the EGM and the AGM Proxy Forms with your name, address and British Canoeing membership number. Then appoint a nominee (of your choice) as your proxy by crossing out the Chairman and inserting his / her name.

If you are opposed to the proposals you may wish to nominate Ivan Lawler as your proxy. If so, please give his address as 47 Chobham Road, Ottershaw, Surrey, KT16 0QE. Should you pass him your proxy vote, Ivan will act as outlined here.

Greg Spencer is also willing to hold Proxy votes. Please contact him on for details.

Voting for your President

Depending on the outcome of the vote at the EGM, Members may get to vote for British Canoeing's next President at the subsequent AGM.

The candidates are Ivan Lawler and Albert Woods. Votes should reach Nottingham by Wednesday 22nd March.

Please Note - Votes for President will ONLY be considered if the ABOVE-MENTIONED changes are withdrawn or defeated at the EGM.

Ivan Lawler was born into a canoe racing and in his sporting career he competed internationally in sprint and marathon, winning 6 Gold and 3 Silver medals at World Level, and representing GB at 3 Olympic Games.

In 1990 Ivan was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Award for Fair Play by UNESCO. A decade later he received an MBE for Services to Canoeing. He commentates for Eurosport and the BBC and is currently the ICF marathon commentator.

These days, Ivan is more commonly to be found competing in (and promoting) ocean racing on surf skis, but he is also the Chairman of Elmbridge Canoe Club and is a big supporter of the club system in all sports. He is a part time coach at the club and regularly runs coaching clinics for other groups.

The WPA is proud to have Ivan on-board as he is one of those rare individuals who brings athletic prowess and a lifetime of industry experience to the Academy.

Photo credit: Mike Rees-Clark

Albert Woods represented Great Britain in both canoe slalom and wildwater racing between 1969 and 1974 and managed the British Slalom Team for 14 years from 1973 to 1986. He received the BCU's Award of Merit in 1980 and their Award of Honour for services to canoeing in 1987. He was elected to the British Canoe Union (BCU) board in 1976 and has been President since 1992.

Since 1988, Albert has been an elected member of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Board of Directors. In 1992, he was elected as a Member of the British National Olympic Committee. Since 1993 he has also been President of the European Canoe Association and in 1999 he became Vice Chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA).

Albert Woods - Photo Credit: Canoe Foundation
it is not often I am short of words, but to be award an OBE in the Queens Diamond Jubilee Birthday list, has left me a little lost for some

Sources: Canoe Foundation / Trustees /

Photo: Ollie Harding

Other EGM & AGM Matters

This document is singling out the more contentious issues being put before the EGM and AGM. Many other matters are also on the agendas.

The most challenging is Item 11 on the AGM Papers - where Teresa Gregory & Ivan Lawler...

[...] call upon the board of British Canoeing to take the initiative to promote welfare through policies and practices based on fair play and respect – basic human rights and the basis of all competitive sport

Members are encouraged to review all of the matters being put forward:

Full details can be found on the British Canoeing website using the following link:


Photo Credits - GJS / as noted

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