Published: 09:53, 11 May 2021
| Updated: 11:29, 11 May 2021
Two friends who have been searching for a way to bring the paddle boarding community to Kent have launched a new business on an unexplored stretch of the River Medway.
Paddle Cabin, in East Peckham opened on May 1 by friends, and now business partners, Jo Taylor, 33, and Hayley Browning, 32.
For them, paddle boarding is not just about the sport, it’s a way of life that they want to share with everyone through their new venture based in Branbridges Leisure.
They are so passionate about the physical and mental health benefits it brings, when the opportunity rose to create the business, they quit their day jobs and channelled their energy into getting qualified as British Canoeing Stand Up Paddle Coaches during the pandemic.
Hayley said: "We saw the opportunity with covid. Where we had some extra time on our hands we wanted to put it to good use.
"Both Jo and I have found over the last year paddle boarding has been a huge part of our lives and we wanted to spread the love and introduce more people to it.
"We found there is not really that kind of community in the area so it seemed like the perfect opportunity and I've basically created what I’ve been looking for."
Both Hayley and Jo know first hand just how beneficial the sport can be when it comes to looking after your physical and mental health.
Jo's passion for paddle boarding grew over the last few years and she introduced Hayley to the sport. It triggered a sense of relief that Hayley had been searching for since her diagnosis of breast cancer.
Thanks to paddle boarding, she gained a renewed appreciation for life post-treatment at the age of 27, through the spark of adventure on the water and the peacefulness of nature surrounding her.
Hayley said: "It gave me the calmness and perspective that I was struggling to find before.
"What’s cool about being on the water is that you see it from a different perspective. You might have walked that stretch of the river hundreds of times but it will look so different from the board.
"It just gives an escape from normal life and it's a bit different even though it's on your door steps and two minutes down the road."
Now the friends hope the new presence of a paddle boarding community in Kent will help others reap the benefits being on the water brought them.
From building skills and confidence on the water, feeling connected to nature and refreshed, they hope the cabin will bring something for everyone.
Visitors can sign up for one off sessions or join the ‘Cabin Crew’ membership scheme to access activities such as social campfire paddles, river clean-ups, meditation and yoga classes.
They are even offering paddle dating and pups sessions to give people the confidence to take their dog out on the board with them.
Jo added: "It's a really good way of taking part in low impact exercise so it's good for people who have had injuries or are looking to get in a bit of cardio without straining your body.
"It's so diverse which is the most amazing thing, you can connect and have a chat, do some exercise, regenerate and be out with nature. It can be whatever you want it to be depending on your mood.
"It's in a stretch of the river which isn't usually accessible. We are giving access to a part that nobody has been able to explore before so we can't wait to show everyone what it's about."
They have also teamed up with charities West Kent Mind, Breast Cancer Now and Kent Wildlife Trust and will take part in fundraising events for them throughout the year.