Our Coaches

The club currently has a number of coaches and paddlesport instructors, with many years experience between them. They are as follows: Derek Marshall, Gilbert Speirs, Ben Gallacher, Alice Blewitt, Gilly MacWhirter, Ellie Young, Jude Young, Fiona Macbeth, Cecile Redmond, Donald Gardner, Oliver Bohle and Diane Sharp. In order to maintain their coaching qualifications the club coaches are required to hold a valid first aid certificate, PVG cleared & Young & Vulnerable People training. However, insurance arrangements also allow us to utilise the knowledge and expertise of experienced paddlers with significant racing and coaching experience. Here’s some information about them:

Gilbert Speirs (Coach)

Gilbert started paddling slalom at University in 1972, gaining awards to become a Senior Instructor and Awards Assessor, as well as then competing in kayak surfing, white water racing, marathon racing and sprint racing. He moved to Nottingham in 1979 to train in sprint racing and in marathon racing with Nottingham Kayak Club continuing to represent Scotland and also to UK National and International levels. He’ll even admit he spent a year racing high-kneeling C1. Now as a Masters sprint and marathon paddler for LKR Gilbert continues to collect national championship medals in Scotland and the UK, and competes internationally in some marathon events. He also trains and competes in ocean ski which he enjoys, but confesses his real skills lie in flat water competition. Qualified as a British Canoeing Racing Coach, his desire to pass on the skills of paddling and the joy of group paddling activities to racing beginners as well as performance paddlesport athletes remains strong. He retains a belief that a vibrant local kayak club is the most appropriate situation for sustainable development.

Ben Gallacher (Performance Coach)

We are delighted that Ben has joined our coaching team, with a goal of developing our junior paddlers who aspire to develop their sprint performance paddling. Ben started as a sprint performance paddler in 2009 and since then has been selected to represent GB on 8 occasions, including Junior European Championships, Junior World Championships and a Senior World Cup.

Derek Marshall (Coach)

Derek started paddling when he was 16, which in hind sight was a bit too late. He competed at Slalom and River Racing for about 8 years reaching Division 1 in Slalom. Following a very long layoff, Derek followed his children & took up Sprint & Marathon paddling in 2002 and has become hooked on it ever since. He is currently qualified to Level 3 for Inland Water & Level 2 for Racing Coach. Derek still enjoys coaching & competing in both sports and has reached Division 4 for Marathon racing & is the currently Scottish Masters Sprint Champion.

Gilly MacWhirter, Ellie Young, Jude Young, Fiona Macbeth, Cecile Redmond (Paddlesport Instructors)

Qualified paddlesport instructors since October 2021, with first aid qualifications and safety rescue training, keen to run taster/starter sessions for LKR in sheltered water environments, notably the Union Canal in Linlithgow.

Alice Blewitt (Experienced paddler and volunteer)

Alice started paddling aged 15 and, being from Wiltshire, soon began training for the Devizes to Westminster Canoe race, competing in the race as part of a junior pair in 2011 at school, and as a senior single in 2013 with Devizes Canoe Club. Following a much-too-long break from paddling whilst at university, Alice was welcomed to LKR after moving to Scotland, and has really enjoyed being back on the water. She hopes to continue racing marathon distances in the future, and encourage other LKR members to perhaps take up the challenge of DW.

Donald Gardner (Experienced paddler and volunteer)

Donald has been paddling for over 35 years – back then you raced marathon in summer, slalom in spring/autumn and white water in winter along with playing polo. He’s paddled throughout the UK along with Europe and Canada. He took up K1/K2 paddling around 20 years ago and particularly enjoys descent races. Overall philosophy is that paddling should be fun – even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.

Olly Bohle (Performance paddler and coach)

A kayaker since the age of 8 and jumped in a K1 aged 13. That same year he was invited to join the SCA’s sprint performance squad. From there Olly went on to win 5 British championships, as well as being selected to represent GB at 2 international regattas. He has coached at LKR since 2016 and is also coaches for the SCA’s sprint performance program since 2017. Always keen to not only improve paddlers’ sprint kayaking but also to develop all round paddling skills. So no matter what craft you find yourself in, you will not feel a million miles away from a sprint kayak. As well as kayaking, Olly is also a keen skier, mainly cross country, but has been known to tear down an alpine slope! 

Diane Sharp (Experienced paddler and volunteer)

A long term, long distance member of LKR since 2006. Coaching and encouragement for all with a Placid Water 2 coaching certificate. Currently most likely to be found paddling on Loch Lomond, but still an LKR racer at heart! Happy to talk about long distance racing and kit of all kinds.