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Cairngorm paddlers will take to Loch Morlich waters with Pride at weekend


By Andrew Henderson

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The Cairngorms Pride Paddlers will be back out on the water for a come and try and picnic event on Sunday (June 30).
The Cairngorms Pride Paddlers will be back out on the water for a come and try and picnic event on Sunday (June 30).

The Cairngorms Pride Paddlers will return to the water this weekend for Festival Fortnight - a time where sports clubs are encouraged to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Festival Fortnight is run by Leap Sports Scotland, the country’s LGBTQ+ sports charity, with groups across the country hosting special events or give it a go sessions to encourage participation from the LGBTQ+ community.

That is something the Pride Paddlers have done well in the past, building a strong group of participants in and out of the water.

Ahead of their next event, a come and try session combined with a picnic this Sunday at Loch Morlich, the impact they have had is not lost on co-founder Julie Partridge.

“Cairngorms Pride Paddlers are getting involved with Festival Fortnight because the event which gave the idea to create a dedicated LGBTQI+ paddling group was born from a come and try session ran by Moray SUP (stand-up paddling) Club a few years ago,” she explained.

“It’s a great event and a brilliant way to get new folk out giving new sports a go. The Pride Paddlers aren't just a sports group, we are a bunch of friends and a community within the rural Highlands.

“Whilst our core was born through paddling we now socialize on many other levels and the original group that came along are now core members in making the Pride Paddlers as welcoming and fun as it was in its early days.

“Some of them are even training to becoming SUP instructors so they can run on-the-water sessions which is amazing – actually going from zero to hero and making lifelong friends along the way.”

Out and About in the Highlands project officer Gavin Hosie has previously said: “It is really important for LGBTQ+ people to have opportunities in sport.”

“There are some groups who have really found a community in the sports that they are involved with through these inclusive clubs.

“For me, growing up in the Highlands and having worked in the paddle sports industry, there wasn’t really a community like this, just maybe one or two people that I knew, so Cairngorms Paddling With Pride for example is a really good opportunity.

“It’s not just about breaking barriers for LGBTQ+ people to come to the sports sector, it’s also breaking barriers for the sports sector to come to the LGBTQ+ community. Being in Pride month probably helps break the ice a little bit.

“It’s such an important month for LGBTQ+ visibility in general, and being the last two weeks of the month means it can be a way of celebrating all the clubs that work year-round with us.”


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