Volunteer pages

Volunteer with AquaPaddle to be part of an inclusive Crew of likeminded individuals who help people become the best they can be. AquaPaddle crewing is accessible to all and extremely rewarding, with Crew members well respected and appreciated by all who take part in AquaPaddle. 

AquaPaddle Crew Guiding Principles:   

  1. It is our passion to help others be better 
  2. Be responsible, dependable, and attentive 
  3. Be caring and enthusiastic 
  4. Be your best 
  5. Be friendly to all, regardless 

Being a Crew Member is done for the pleasure it brings to the individual and the people they help; it is incredibly rewarding to know that you are making a difference to many people. 

There is so much to benefit from volunteering as an AquaPaddle Crew Member:   

  1. Friendship 
  2. Knowledge and skills  
  3. Motivation 
  4. Confidence 
  5. Improved mental and physical wellbeing 
  6. A sense of purpose 
  7. Belonging to the AquaPaddle “Family” 

The role of the Crew 

The Crew are at the heart of all AquaPaddles, which could not take place without them. With lots of different Crew roles to try, depending on your skills, interests, and the time you have available to give to the AquaPaddle Community. An overview of the various AquaPaddle Crew Roles is provided below (with roles on and off the water), but if these are not suitable, please contact us as we can never have enough Crew Members.  

As with any growing community, there are many jobs to be done, so we never turn down the offer of help. The more Crewmates we have, the less pressure there is on the Crew as a whole, which means that we can all fit the volunteering we love to do into our busy lives. Being part of the AquaPaddle Crew should be fun and not an obligation. It should be a place where all paddlers and volunteers feel welcome and part of a well-supported team, from day one. 

Here at Aquapaddle, we understand that volunteering is a personal choice and not for everyone. It is not our culture to put pressure on those who feel unable to volunteer, instead we are just very grateful for those volunteer paddlers and land-based volunteers who come forward and offer help. 

People who wish to volunteer with AquaPaddle should be registered on the AquaPaddle website https://aquapaddle.org/sign-up and training relevant to each role will be provided to all volunteers. 

Crew Roles   

Every AquaPaddle is run by a Captain, who is responsible for the event and makes sure it is run safely and within the AquaPaddle guidance. The Captain is helped by the AquaPaddle Crew – a team of volunteers from the wider AquaPaddle community. Some Crew roles are mission critical and the AquaPaddle cannot take place if volunteers are not in place on the day; these include the AquaPaddle Captain, Time Lord, Head Marshal and Sweeper roles. Other Crew roles are “nice to have” with less responsibility. In mission critical roles, children may not accompany the volunteer, but in other roles they may. 

AquaPaddle Captain 

The AquaPaddle Captain has overall control and responsibility for their local AquaPaddle. They must be an experienced water person or experienced paddler or boater (5 years regularly being on the waterway throughout the year and First Aid training) and need to be on or near the water once the AquaPaddle has started. They are the ultimate authority on all decisions, with the only exception being whether the event should take place, which is decided by the Local AquaPaddle Panel. For the safety of all AquaPaddlers, there must be a unanimous agreement amongst the AquaPaddle Panel for an AquaPaddle to take place (see Local AquaPaddle Panel below for more information). The Captain welcomes all AquaPaddlers to the paddle via the pre-event briefing. They make sure that all understand the route and remind the AquaPaddlers that the Paddler is more important than their Time. 

AquaPaddle Captains must not paddle in the AquaPaddle event or perform any other volunteer role whilst it is taking place. They are part of the “Senior Crew”. 

Safety Marshal 

The Safety Marshal is a mission critical paddling role, responsible for being the Captain’s eyes and ears while AquaPaddle is underway. They will preferably be trained in First Aid (it is mission critical that one or more Marshals has First Aid Training) and will generally be positioned at a pre-specified central point in the route to assist anyone requiring attention. The Safety Marshal is a member of the Local AquaPaddle Panel and as such, must be an experienced paddler with knowledge and experience of judging river conditions, in order to decide whether the AquaPaddle may proceed. They are part of the “Senior Crew”. 

Assistant Marshals  

Assistant Marshals are positioned at key points around the course, for example at turn buoys and in and around the fleet of paddlers as they travel round the AquaPaddle route. The Assistant Marshals provide encouragement and assist paddlers who need some help. 

All Marshals will be given one Paddle and one Volunteer credit at the completion of their duties at each AquaPaddle. They must be a registered AquaPaddler in line with our Safeguarding Policy. 

Time Lords 

Time Lords are the controllers of Time itself – they are mission critical and without them nobody gets a time. They are responsible for making sure every AquaPaddler has a recorded time using the AquaPaddler Timer. Time Lords do not need to be paddlers, although they do need to have knowledge and experience of judging river conditions as they form part of the AquaPaddle Panel who decide whether it is safe for the AquaPaddle event to proceed.  Aside from this, the Time Lord role can be done by anyone who is able to operate the AquaPaddle Timer system. They are part of the “Senior Crew”. 

Time Lord Assistants (or Time Beings) 

The Time Lord is helped by Assistants who act as spotters of the AquaPaddler Numbers worn by the Paddlers as they cross the finish line. These roles can be non-paddling roles. 

Local AquaPaddle Panel  

Safety is the first and foremost role of the AquaPaddle Panel, which is made up of The Captain, Safety Marshal, and Time Lord. All three must unanimously agree that the AquaPaddle can take place safely for the event to go ahead. If any one of them decides it is not safe for the event to proceed their decision is final and cannot be questioned. This system ensures the safety of AquaPaddlers and Crew and shares the responsibility of the decision among the senior Crew Members. It is better to cancel an AquaPaddle than put lives at risk.  

First Timers Liaison 

This Crew role is responsible for briefing First Time AquaPaddlers and is very important as first impressions matter. First Timers Liaison will help to create the right atmosphere for the new AquaPaddler and ensure they understand the concept and ethos of AquaPaddle. First Timer briefings also gives a detailed description of the route and any obstructions to be avoided. Volunteers taking this Crew role would need to consent to volunteer name and photograph, to be posted on the local AquaPaddle Event team roster page, to give reassurance to new AquaPaddlers and a face to look for when they arrive. They are also the person who ensures first timers have an enjoyable experience, answer any questions that may arise and generally make people welcome and at ease. 

Event Day Route Check 

The Event Day Route Check is a critical part of every AquaPaddle. This Check is performed by one of the Senior Crew (Captain, Head Marshall, Time Lord). This Crew member needs to cover the entire route and make sure there are no obstructions or dangers, including making sure that if then AquaPaddle is on a river that the river flow is not too strong for beginners. The Check can be completed in a boat, on a board, or in a kayak. The Check makes sure that the route is safe to use, and any issues are reported to the local AquaPaddle Panel. 


The Sweeper is a paddling role and is always the last person to complete the route as their role is to stay at the back and accompany the last AquaPaddlers back to base. Paddlers at the back tend to be new to paddle boarding or kayaking and welcome some company and encouragement on the paddle back. This is not a coaching role, but a safety role to ensure that everyone completes the event safely. When the Sweeper confirms that the route is clear of AquaPaddlers and that every paddler is accounted for, the AquaPaddle event is closed for that day. 

The Sweeper will be given both one Paddle and one Volunteer credit at the completion of their duties at each AquaPaddle. They must be a registered AquaPaddler in line with our Safeguarding Policy. 

Other Crew Roles (may be needed at some sites):   

Car Park Marshal   

The Car Park Marshal gives guidance to AquaPaddlers as they arrive at an AquaPaddle event and makes sure busy car parks are not obstructed by AquaPaddlers to the detriment of local residents and other users. Additionally, the safety of pedestrians is of utmost importance, including AquaPaddlers carrying their boards to the launch points. 

Warm-up Leader 

The Warm-up Leader makes sure those who want it are warmed up and ready for the physical activity that an AquaPaddle requires. The Warm-up is a fun activity and for all ages to join in and helps build that community spirit. The Warm-up Leader role is only possible if there are sufficient Crew members to cover the other mission critical roles. 

Paddle Report Writer 

A Paddle Report Writer is a Volunteer who completes the report for the Local AquaPaddle, which is published on their section of the website. The reports can be as detailed as the report writer wants to make them. Paddle Report Writers often work closely with the Photographer. 


The Photographer is a registered volunteer and makes any photographs they take freely available to the community via the website. They must also make themselves known to the AquaPaddle Captain and always wear their Volunteer high-visibility vest. They may use a boat if one is available but need to keep out of the way of the AquaPaddlers and of other water users. Inclusion of images on public platforms such as AquaPaddle websites and social media will be in line with our photo guidance and privacy documents.  

Pre-event Setup Volunteer 

The Pre-event Setup Volunteer, is a paddling role responsible for helping the AquaPaddle Captain set up the route and provide any required signage. They might be required to place buoys out on the route or any other duties. 

Post-event Close Down Volunteer 

The Post-event Close Down Volunteer is a paddling role, responsible for helping the AquaPaddle Captain clear the route and any signage. They might be required to collect the buoys that are out on the route or any other duties. 

Sign Language Support Volunteer 

The Sign Language Support volunteer role is to sign the briefings that take place and any messages. They are a liaison between the hard of hearing / deaf community and the AquaPaddle Crew members. If the Sign Language Support Volunteer is a capable paddler, they may want to accompany any of the deaf paddlers out on to the route, especially if it is the paddler’s first time. If they do this, they will be given both one Paddle and one Volunteer credit at the completion of their duties. They must be a registered AquaPaddler in line with our Safeguarding Policy. 

Adaptive Paddler Support Volunteer 

The Adaptive Paddler Support Volunteer is a crew member who has a good understanding of the needs of members of the adaptive community. Crew in this role would welcome adaptive community members, showing them where to park and safely launch from. It is important that the Adaptive Paddler Support Volunteer makes themselves known to the Captain before the event. If the Sign Adaptive Paddler Support Volunteer is a capable paddler, they may want to accompany any adaptive community paddlers out on to the route, especially if it is the paddler’s first time. If they do this, they will be given both one Paddle and one Volunteer credit at the completion of their duties. They must be a registered AquaPaddler in line with our Safeguarding Policy. 

Local Crew Coordinator 

The Local Crew Coordinator is a non-paddling role responsible for ensuring new AquaPaddles have the mission critical Crew roles covered. Without these key roles covered the local AquaPaddle event cannot take place. The Crew Coordinator can use the official AquaPaddle Discord Comms system or local alternative comms systems, if preferred. The role can be held by a non-paddler, and they do not need to attend the AquaPaddle event. This is purely an Administrative and Communications role.  

Essential Crew Guidance 

Crew members are required to:   

  1. Wear a buoyancy aid or PFD and their AquaPaddle Crew member vest to make them easy to identify both on and off the water. Also carry their whistle at all times. 
  1. Keep an eye on all paddlers, particularly looking for those that need help or encouragement, including first time attendees. Once on the water, they are there to keep the AquaPaddlers safe and inform them of any risks. 
  1. Help warn other water users if they are coming too close to the AquaPaddlers. 
  1. Be the welcoming face of AquaPaddle, to inquire about the paddlers, show interest, and make sure paddlers know where they have to go, etc. 

Unregistered Volunteers 

Occasionally people offer to volunteer on the day of an AquaPaddle. They might not be registered as AquaPaddlers and/or have not volunteered at an AquaPaddle before. If this happens then the AquaPaddle Captain or Volunteer Coordinator should…  

  1. Encourage them to register for AquaPaddle on the website then and there, if possible.  
  1. Take the name and postcode of the volunteer using the safeguarding declaration form.  
  1. Make sure that any such volunteers are not placed in a role that is unsupervised (e.g., as an isolated Marshal or Sweeper).  
  1. Brief the volunteer on their role, including any necessary health and safety or safeguarding information.  

The form below should be filled in and signed by the volunteer.  

Sign up link: https://aquapaddle.org/sign-up 

On the rare occasion that event teams need to ask someone to complete the safeguarding declaration, they should photograph or scan it, and email it to [email protected] so that it can be placed on file. The paper copy should be destroyed.  

Grievances and complaints 

If Crew members have a specific concern about a fellow Crew member or their conduct, either the AquaPaddle Captain or Crew Coordinator should contact AquaPaddle HQ immediately via [email protected] or via the Critical Incident Line.  

If the AquaPaddle Captain is implicated in the concern, another member of the Crew should contact AquaPaddle HQ via [email protected] or the Critical Incident Line.