The current committee (2023-2024) are:

Chairman: Mark Gillett
Treasurer: Conor O’Neill
Secretary: Lisa Gunton
Membership: Nick Wainwright
Other members: David Brain, Keaton Reynolds-Cotterill, Kevin Williamson, Lewis Downward, Mark Heeley, Steven Pike

Brief biographies (alphabetical order)

Conor O’Neill (Treasurer)

Conor O'Neill

I started kayaking with the Scouts when I was about 12 years old (flat water only). I moved onto white water and slalom when I was at University. I’ve been a member of Bristol Canoe Club for over 30 years, paddling on white water and flat water.

We have paddled all over the world, on multiple continents, so difficult to choose a ‘best’ place. The Grand Canyon was fabulous. Nepal is also fabulous.

David Brain

David Brain

I’ve paddled for nearly 30 years, at sea and on white water, gaining British Canoeing L3K Sea & Inland, plus UKCC L2 coaching qualifications along the way. (Although I’m old and rusty enough to limit myself to Class 3 these days!). Kayaking and open-canoeing has taken me to many rivers and coastlines of the UK, plus a few more in Europe, the USA and Asia. I feel privileged to have paddled in so many beautiful and challenging environments – although my Registered Sight Impaired status has made some of my experiences a bit too exiting for comfort!

Keaton Reynolds-Cotterill


Kevin Williamson

I have been kayaking for almost 40 year and been a member of Bristol Canoe Club since 1986. As a junior paddler I got into marathon racing and have represented the club at Regional and National Hasler races. I won the Devizes to Westminster Canoe race as a junior and managed to reach Division 2, that was a long time ago! I have also raced outside the UK in Ireland, the Liffey Descent and in Spain in the Sella and other races around Northern Spain. I love paddling and enjoy nothing more than a paddle in the Bristol Harbour on a sunny day. More recently I have been keen to pass on my canoeing skills to new juniors in the club and promote racing to all those who would like to take part and give it a go.

Lisa Gunton (Secretary)

Lisa Gunton

I have been kayaking for 30 years. I started paddling slalom and white water. I have played canoe polo for the 20 years. I first started my coaching qualifications with the club and have worked as an outdoor instructor for 20 years. I coach open canoe, SUP and kayak. Paddling white water has taken me to amazing places over the years Nepal, Norway, Montenegro being some of them. I still love paddling the local rivers Dart, Usk. I am also just as happy paddling the Wye and seeing the wildlife. I have made some great friends and paddled with some amazing paddlers.

Lewis Downward

I started kayaking during university where I first started playing canoe polo. I have now been involved in almost all of the tournaments with the aim to get our team up in the rankings.

I also paddle on white water having explored Slovenia, Austria, France, and Scotland. I am hoping to continue paddling in Europe adding Italy and Spain to the list.

I currently coach during the pool sessions helping people get comfortable on the water.

Mark Gillett (Chair)

Mark Gillett

I built my first canoe in glass-fibre at the tender age of 14 whereupon I started paddling on lakes, the sea and some rivers in Cumbria.  I joined Bristol Canoe Club in 1978 prior to University, where I paddled slalom and WW for several years.  Some 11 years after University, I returned to Bristol and re-joined the Club getting to know many members who also went on river trips to the Alps, Norway, Scotland and the Grand Canyon.  More recently I have been organising Canoe Polo within the Club, where we have developed several teams who competed in the National and SW Leagues.  In addition to WW and Polo, I enjoy Wave Skiing on Woolacombe beach, which seems to have become a forgotten canoeing discipline but provides excellent fun in the surf – let me know if you are interested!

Mark Heeley


Nick Wainwright (Membership)

Nick Wainwright

Old man of the club.

Steven Pike

I started kayaking in 2012 with Tower Hamlets Canoe Club, based in East London. I soon developed a love for white water grown from day trips to Lee valley, and weekends in Devon and Wales. In 2021 I moved back home to the west country, in part, to be closer to rivers, and joined Bristol Canoe Club. I’m close to paddling 100 rivers in Uganda, Slovenia, Ecuador, Scotland, Colombia, Guatemala, France, Austria and Switzerland… but mainly in Devon and Wales. I enjoy sea kayaking and circumnavigated Menorca in 2022. I also try to play canoe polo and have been involved in a few tournaments for Bristol. I’ve recently become white water rep and happy to support anyone looking to get into white water.

Older biographies (not on current committee)

Alex Petsch

Alex Petsch

Hi, I started paddling when I was 12 and since then I mostly did kayak racing. But throughout the years I also played some canoe polo and tried a little bit of canoe racing. For many years, I was also working as a children and youth coach for kayak sprint racing.

Since I’m paddling in Bristol I made many new friends and got more into marathon. I especially enjoy paddling/training with friends and leaving the harbour onto the Avon to enjoy some nature and the calm river.

Since September 2020 I’m acting as racing rep, so if you have any questions or want to try racing just email me –

Csilla Zadori


Ellie Payne

Ellie Payne

Mainly a flat water paddler, be it kayaks or SUPs, I thoroughly enjoy the social side of paddling with BCC. You get out what you put in.

Ezra Watts

Ezra Watts

I joined a local canoe club (Thamesway near Swindon) to practise kayaking before a duke of Edinburgh expedition. Never did the expedition but kept up kayaking for the next 20 years.

I first trained with Bristol Canoe Club’s canoe polo team whilst at UWE c.2006/ 2007ish I think? I moved away from Bristol for work and moved back 4 years ago.

I ave been messing about with boats for 20+ years, whitewater kayaking c.15 years, polo c.15 years. Have dabbled with most things at some point in time canoeing, marathon, play boating. I will hopefully learn to stand up on a sup board this year.

My best paddling location is Nepal. The Tamur river – 5 days of continuous whitewater grade 2-5 with a 4 day hike in over the foothills of the Himalayas with Everest in the background.

Fran Bamber

Fran Bamber

I have been kayaking since about aged 11 on canals in Northwest England and camps with scouts. I bought an old fibreglass kayak from my uncle and had a great time on flat water. Completed my first and only course with Air Cadets aged around 16, I do have my two star! and started a bit of paddling on moving water. I joined the Glasgow University Canoe Club and paddled throughout my five years as a student, this included polo and competing in mixed teams and the girls. Paddled various rivers in Scotland, including the Etive, Feshie, Tummel, Teith, Awe, Findhorn…. annual surfing in November in Machrihanish and Loch to Lomond to camp overnight on Wallaby Island. Paddled rivers in Oregon for a week in with some super enthusiastic Americans from Boston College as studying there for the year. Went on a trip away to the Alps with the club and highlight was managing a run down the Briançon Gorge (closely following my friend who had done slalom paddling in Scotland since he was small!) Looking forward to a sunshine club paddle to the Alps when the world is open again.

I joined BCC shortly after I moved to Bristol in 2017 and have loved the Thursday night sessions, and getting out and about to North and South Wales, and the Dart but picnic paddles are a firm favourite! Fab club to have joined, brilliant people and plenty going on to get yourself involved in. I have a small person due in September 2021 so I may not be around as much as I was for a while, but I’ll be back when I can!

Genny Sargent

Genny Sargent

Despite growing up in Bristol, I didn’t start kayaking until I moved to Bangor, North Wales, for university in 2015. I did mostly white water whilst I was at Bangor and loved it, went on all the trips I could whilst I was there and participated in the varsity competitions all 3 years. After Bangor I had a year abroad in Bergen, Norway where I’d heard great things about the white water out there. Unfortunately I lived far enough away from the good white water that I didn’t get to do much of it and instead joined a sea kayaking and canoe polo club. This was equally great and gave me a new appreciation for these disciplines of kayaking that I hadn’t previously tried. I moved back from Norway the start of 2020, just before the pandemic hit and didn’t do much kayaking at all before I joined Bristol canoe club in May 2021. Since I joined I’ve been to the harbour sessions, a few easy river paddles and more recently the Lake District trip. I’m keen to see what the coming year as part of the committee has to hold!

Joe Green

Joe Green

[ Joe Green passed away in 2023 ]

Hi, I’ve come to paddling late in life, having been involved in cycling, Triathlon, ultra-marathons and multi-day events over the past 40 years. This has taken a toll on my knee, forcing me to look for another endurance-based sport, so I gave paddling a try.

Having started on flat water “K” boats, (which I still find very wobbly), I moved onto Surfskis and have been enjoying the challenge and thrill ever since.

I regularly train in the harbour and look forward to encouraging others to join me in this discipline

“As soon as you’re a meter offshore the world looks a totally different place.”

Joe Nelson

Joe Nelson

I learnt to paddle age 10-11 and quickly got drawn to white water, paddling it regularly regularly until aged 18-19, where I fell away from the sport. However watching kayaking videos in the lockdown last year and hiring a kayaking one weekend reignited my old long forgotten passion and I recaught the bug aged 26. My favourite place to paddle is the Lake District as it is where I learnt but I cant wait to paddle abroad which is something I’ve never done and push past anything I have paddled in this country

Louise Dening

I moved to Bristol and wanted to make friends and meet like-minded people who love watersports, so decided to join the Bristol Canoe Club

I joined in 2016 and had had the chance to kayak on the River Wye, Saltford and Avonmouth. The club plan some great trips both in the UK and abroad.

I started off paddling in a Kayak but before lockdown I bought a paddleboard and have been hooked ever since

My favourite place to paddle is the harbourside. Such a special place in Bristol. Enjoy Thursday night social paddles too, that are followed by a pint or a relaxing paddle on a weekend. In my opinion the best place in Bristol is on the water. Now a new mum, I feel it is important more than ever to make time for the things you love. If you are thinking you would like to have a go, come down to one of our Thursday evening sessions, you wont regret it!

Matt Baird

Matt baird

Keen kayaker who paddles mostly flat water or easy white water. 

Nick Gracie

Nick Gracie in a kayak

I have been paddling for 20 years and love being out on the water. My main sport is Adventure Racing and a big part of that is kayaking so over the years I have paddled many different types of boats all over the world. Sea Kayaking and river paddling is what I have done the most off and normally in double kayaks. I have done some white water but keen to do a lot more. I spend most of my paddling time training in K1’s in the harbour and on the Avon ahead of my Adventure Races where sometimes we paddle up to 100km in one go.

Tanya Cownie

Tanya Cownie

I like a huge range of paddle and water sports. In the club, I champion flat and slow moving water activities.

Tom Brockett

Tom Brockett

I joined the club in 2018 and I had never properly been in kayaking before, but now I’ve been to amazing places all over the UK and also some trips abroad with a great group of people!

My main passion is whitewater kayaking but I also enjoy flatwater trips (if its sunny). This club helped me get to grips with the sport and really get the most out of it I possibly can!