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Kayak stalwart Ken says it's a privilege to win sport award

By Iain Grant

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Ken Nicol is Scottish ClubSport's 2023 Caithness service to sport winner. Picture: Gerald Urquhart
Ken Nicol is Scottish ClubSport's 2023 Caithness service to sport winner. Picture: Gerald Urquhart

Ken Nicol called it “an honour and a privilege” to be named as Scottish ClubSport’s 2023 Caithness service to sport winner.

The accolade was handed over at Caithness Sports Council's annual awards ceremony in Thurso.

Having started his paddling in Brora, Ken was a founder member of Pentland Canoe Club in March 1984. He was its first secretary and soon qualified to become a senior instructor in both inland and sea kayaking.

He has since coached hundreds of individuals both within and outwith the club.

Ken helped organise the Scottish Surf Kayak Championships in Thurso in 1984. He went on to be involved with the future staging of the competition in the town as well as taking part as a competitor, winning the event in 1994.

Ken went on to compete in the Scottish team in the Kayak Surf Home Internationals in Jersey in 1985 and Cornwall in 1986 and then organise and take part when Thurso hosted the competition in 1987.

He also served dual roles in the World Kayak Surf Championships in Thurso in 1991 and 1997.

In between, he represented Scotland in the world events in Santa Cruz and Costa Rica.

Ken has meantime spearheaded the club's programme of activities throughout the year.

He leads the summer evening paddles in the River Thurso and Thurso Bay and weekend river outings to the Spey and the Helmsdale, as well as sea-kayaking trips to Skye and Orkney.

His love for the sport has seen him take part in paddling excursions to Norway, Greenland and Croatia.

He has also run kayaking sessions for Scouts, Guides and other youth groups.

Most recently, Ken has spearheaded the drive to find a new home for the club after its base on Thurso harbourfront was condemned when its foundations were undermined by a storm in January 2022.

After a major fundraising campaign and a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes, he organised for the club to flit to Scrabster beach, where it has formed a base beside Pentland Firth Yacht Club.

Speaking after his presentation, Ken said: "To have been nominated and selected to receive the award is an honour and a privilege.

"While I have received the award, this acknowledges all the hard work of the club committee members, coaches and volunteers who have given their time to support the club since it was founded in 1984."

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