A Tribute to Alan Baker

It is with great sadness that the Board of Canoe Wales have to announce that our Chairman, Alan Baker, passed away on the 4th March 2017 after a period of illness.

We can think of no better tribute to Alan than the one written by his great friend Glyn for the inaugural Alan Baker award that he was proud to be able to present at the Canoe Wales awards in October 2016....

Glyn wrote:

In 1971 teacher Alan Baker found himself helping youngsters make canoes and kayaks at Croesyceiliog Secondary School youth club. When the youngsters and their parents started trying their canoes and kayaks on local rivers it became obvious to Alan, a keen outdoor enthusiast, that perhaps he could offer something more.
He set up Croesyceiliog Canoe Club and had no idea that 40+ years on it would have grown into a successful and highly regarded canoe club affiliated to Canoe Wales. In a press article he said:

“I wanted to get people interested in the sport, so I set up an evening class. I was always involved in outdoor pursuits and just really enjoyed canoeing. I went on to earn various qualifications and went on numerous courses with my wife Val, and then through my teaching job the club was set up”

From an original 16 members the club now stands at more than 70. The club has two regular training sessions a week from its base at Newport International Sports Village and organises trips far and wide. 
Through Alan's leadership it is the only sports club to be level 3 accredited by the City Council, a major achievement in recognition of the high quality of service and sport it provides the community. It is also listed as a ‘top club’ by the governing body of paddle sport in Wales, Canoe Wales.
Alan, who is now the club’s President, has been awarded the first honorary medal by Canoe Wales for his services to canoeing. One of the reasons for it being so successful is Alan’s experience and qualifications. Titles to his name include Level 5 Coach (Sea) and (Inland), Chairman of Canoe Wales and Vice President and representative for Canoe Wales on the board of directors of British Canoeing.
He is also a former competitor himself having competed in canoe polo between 1969 and the early 1980’s and for Wales in slalom in the late 1970’s.
But as well as training young competitors he has always been keen to keep the social side of the club one of its strongest points “the ethos being to involve youngsters and families”
Alan Baker said of himself:

“As Chairman, I see my job as keeping up to date with what’s happening in canoeing, and promoting it at every single opportunity. When I’m out and about, that means listening to paddlers so I can put their views to the Canoe Wales board – even when those views differ wildly I try to pick up people’s thoughts and feelings about how things are developing, and how we can improve. I also spend time working with British Canoeing putting forward Canoe Wales’ interests at a national level. It’s not hard for me to promote paddling in Wales – after all, we’ve got so many fantastic places to paddle"

This sums him up perfectly, highlighting Alan’s longstanding commitment to promoting paddlesport, his love of canoeing and unforgettable experiences over 50 years of paddling. Alan’s dedication and enthusiasm has not wavered and with his guidance Croesyceiliog Canoe Club has developed a friendly, family orientated culture, where improving paddling skills and coaching is actively encouraged, but most of all promoting and participating in canoeing is about having fun. Alan’s mentor and close friend of many years, the late Sandy Buttle MBE, would agree entirely.

Alan’s other achievements include:   

  • Founder member of the Welsh Canoeing Association (WCA); 
  • Alan, together with his wife Val, produced and edited the original Caefad magazine
  • He has previously been presented with a ‘lifetime achievement to canoeing’ award at the Birmingham Canoe Exhibition 
  • Competed in the Devises to Westminster canoe race 5 times in K2 class with close friend and leg amputee paddler
  • Organiser of the annual Usk Canoe Race
  • Qualified Pool Lifeguard with 9 other members
  • Awarded Honorary Viceā€President British Canoeing in 2013
  • On becoming Chairman of Canoe Wales 3 years ago Alan demonstrated his willingness to take on managerial responsibilities at a difficult time for the national governing body. 
  • Despite personal set backs Alan has continued to help others whilst suffering life threatening illnesses.

Alan, you will be sadly missed. 



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