The history of River Legacy is long, complicated and far from boring. None of us can really claim to know everything about the organisation, except perhaps Steve, however we’ve put together a few words to try and give you an idea of how things all began…
River Legacy has its roots way back when the Mike Jones Rallies were still happening on the Dee. Mike Jones was a legendary kayaker from the ’70s, who died whilst trying to save a fellow paddler. The Mike Jones Foundation and the subsequent Rallies were created in his memory, and consisted of recreational touring events. They ran for about ten years at the Dee, before moving to the Tyne in 1990 – which eventually metamorphosed into what paddle folk now know as the Tyne Tour.
But events on the Dee had not come to a halt, far from it. The following year, Steve and Clive got involved with what became the Dee Tour – complete with a céilidh band (who we still use) and a ten by twenty foot ex-army marquee which people had to dance in and out of to take part in all the jigs and reels… The WCA took over the organisation of the tours and the ‘Megabash’ arrived courtesy of Affinity Events, which Steve started up as a subsidiary of the canoe shop he ran at the time. Another muddy field with a tent, this time forty by forty, which was still too small but again lots of fun.
Steve eventually formed the River Legacy Trust under a trust deed constructed by solicitors Walker Smith and Way. The trust was set up to raise money to improve access by means of land purchase – an income stream that could (with a fair wind and some enthusiastic help) provide the basis of a campaign. Originally helpers included just Clive, Eddie and Steve, but then along came Bryony, Andy and Chris and a whole bunch of others, some of whom are still very much involved. Steve gave all events rights to this Trust, together with £10,000 worth of equipment.
Just as things were getting going, the tour was cancelled in 2000 due to predicted high water levels. Many clubs and individuals decided not to make the journey – and consequently the Megabash – which meant that the Trust made a huge loss. At this point, the trustees bailed River Legacy out of financial difficulty and enabled it to continue. Then came foot-and-mouth, everything gone for a year and then finally the complete cancellation of the Dee Tour.
The River Legacy was asked to take their event down to the already existing Teifi Tour at Llandysul in west Wales, which they eventually did. Now after many years it is beginning to make some money, some of which has already been ploughed back into Llandysul Paddlers in the form of a number of donations totalling £5000 towards the purchase of land next to the river.
The River Legacy has also been involved with the National Student Rodeo since it’s inception and for several years has provided the party venue, with Leeds University Canoe Club organising the competition side of things.
With the advent of a strong campaign for river access by the Welsh Canoeing Association and the Rivers Access Campaign, the River Legacy has shifted focus slightly. More emphasis has been placed on running great events at which paddlers can meet and share the experiences of paddlesport with fellow boaters from across the country. We would also like to see them improve and get better and better each time. However, our aim to improve access through land purchase in local areas still stands; you can read more about our aims and objectives just here.
The River Legacy is comprised of two companies – a trading company, going by the name of ‘River Legacy Events Ltd’, has been set up as a social enterprise whose purpose is to raise funds. These funds are then passed to River Legacy (Registered Charity Number 1146997) which, together with donations directly received, are used to provide funding for paddlesports projects.