12 Young Kayakers Lead the Royal Fleet
With more than 32 years of combined kayaking experience on the Thames, a group of 12 teenagers have the great honour of being selected to take part in the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant in their tandem kayaks. As the Westminster Boating Base representatives in the QDJ River Pageant, with an average age of 15 years, they are probably one of the youngest groups of kayakers taking part.
The story of this group being part of the Pageant is less about the kayaks they are using, despite them being rather special 2 person boats, but more about how the charity they are representing. Westminster Boating Base, has helped them become highly experienced kayakers, many of whom are now accomplished coaches and volunteers passing on their skills to others. Another four, not so young kayakers, are also taking part, the eldest of whom is 70, who is also the Chair of the charity or the chief volunteer as he likes to call himself. The youngsters aren’t daunted by the challenge of the Pageant as kayaking on the Thames is second nature to them. They are all are hugely excited by the event and are looking forward to saluting the queen and joining the other 992 boats. One of the youngest paddlers, Gabriel Walsh, 13, said "We don't know exactly what to expect with 1,000 boats, but we are ready to put our skills to the challenge as maintaining our correct formation, just ahead of the Royal Fleet will be a real test for us and the organisers.”Westminster Boating Base, a registered charity since 1975, offers young Londoners and adults the chance to learn to sail, canoe and kayak on the Thames. It’s able to do this at much reduced rates by raising money from fundraising and hiring its attractive riverside venue for functions and events. The Westminster Boating Base youth members can be seen on the river
in central London all year round in all kinds of boats, often in iconic locations as can be seen from the photographs below.