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The People Behind Go Kayaking

Words by GoKayakingAdmin on 15/02/2021 13:17:35

Go Kayaking is a small independent retailer based in Runcorn, Cheshire and established in 1971. We are run by a small team of enthusiasts, dedicated to spread the spirit of adventure through paddling. We love helping paddlers coming in to get their boat, and then hearing the adventures the boat takes them on and seeing the photos you kindly share with us. Unfortunately, at the moment our store is closed to the public, and we’re not able to meet our customers in store. Instead, we are sharing our knowledge over the phone, email, messenger or our new live chat feature on our website.

But who are you actually speaking to when you get in touch with us? Who are the people behind the UKs oldest independent paddle sport retailer?

Grant Kay

 The Staff

John Fitzpatrick (Customer Assistant) – John started paddling like a lot of our customers, in the Scouts! John currently paddles a Pyranha Machno, Pyranha Ozone & a P&H Scorpio and is happy just being on the water. It’s always worth paddling with John as he has a natural talent for finding a chip shop! John’s long term ambition is to fall in less and to travel new places and his favourite piece of kit is his NRS Pivot drysuit! John’s hard work and passion for the outdoors is unquestionable, a true enthusiast!


Andy Butler (Customer Assistant) – Andy has been paddling for 25 years and initially progressed through his local club (Islington Boat Club, which is now 50 years old! Islington Boat Club | Facebook) and through his scouts until spending his time on the rivers of North Wales, or the steep creeks of Norway. Currently paddling the Pyranha Ozone, Ripper and 12R. Andy’s technical understanding and experience is one of the reasons our customers always get the right kit!


Dan Jones (Customer Assistant) – Dan bought his first boat from us a few years back and he oozed enthusiasm and passion for paddle sports as well as being naturally talented at kayaking.  Dan is now 18 and has been paddling for 5 years. Dan loves kayaking because of the time spent with a great community of people helping him fulfil his ambitions. Dan’s favourite place to paddle is Scotland, with the amazing scenery and great white water. Dan’s favourite bit of kit is his NRS Crux suit and his Pyranha 9R I.


Jay Walsh (Graphic Designer & Content Advisor) – Jay started paddling a few years ago, actually on one of Go Kayaking’s taster sessions! Jay & his wife love exploring new places on the water in their Pulse 120 tandem sit on top. “Being out on the water gives you a unique perspective that nothing else can give you”. Jay wants to progress from still water to sea & touring and exploring the beautiful coasts around the UK. 


Carol (Resident Cleaner) – Carol has been our cleaner for a few years now and is very much part of our team. Carol often comes in outside of hours to make sure the place is thoroughly cleaned and dis-infected ready for our customers the following day.


Andy Lees (Store Manager) – Andy has been a paddler for roughly 10 years and started paddling white water rivers as a teenager, mainly in North Wales. Andy started sea kayaking when he met a friend who shared an ambition to sea kayak around the entire of Anglesey one section at a time. This goal was completed over a couple of years as we took the time to really see it, all of it, noodling in all the caves, playing in all the surf spots along the way and watching the wildlife. We now continue to go back to our favourite spots.  “I really love paddling because of the adventures you can have. You can really escape, whether it’s deep in a gorge, or in the middle of the sea – you’re away from it, relying on your skill set and your group to get you to your destination. Every day is an adventure, whether the day goes as planned or not” Andy is planning more post-lockdown adventures exploring the UK coastline

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Graham Mackereth (Owner) – This isn’t really the place to go into the amount of detail that Graham’s paddling career deserves. Graham started canoeing when he was 15 years old and founded Pyranha Kayaks and this shop in 1971. Graham and his team, past and present are responsible for many of the important design, safety and construction innovations you see in kayaks & canoes today. Always designed and manufactured in Runcorn, UK and always leading the way in paddle sports. By enthusiasts for enthusiasts.


The Team

Our team paddlers are paddlers that we directly support through sponsorship because they are all ambassadors for the sport in their own way, they are very much part of our network and worthy of mention.

Chris Brain – Chris has been paddling since he was 15. His technical understanding of the sport is second to none and his multi-discipline experience combined with his coaching knowledge make Chris an influential ambassador for the sport. Having Chris on board allows us to help advise customers on safety tips and best practises. Chris loves paddling for the places you can explore and the people you can go with. “I love being in locations where the only way to see it is from a boat, there is nothing quite like the feeling of paddling through a gorge and getting such a unique viewpoint from the water”.

You can find Chris at or at Chris Brain Coaching | Facebook

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Mayo-Ray Cross – We met Mayo at bottom wave on the River Dee in Llangollen a few years ago and her youthful charm and personality was clear for everyone. Mayo has a real passion for paddle sports and she comes to life when she's in a kayak. We immediately felt compelled to help her achieve her goals. Mayo loves the challenges paddling provides, exploring new places that can only be seen from the water and the community & friendships made through paddling. Mayo paddles freestyle and river running kayaks and has ambitions to rejoin the GB freestyle team & to push her coaching to a new level.

You can keep up to date with Mayo’s progress here: Can u kayak? | Facebook


Chris Bartlett – A young talented paddler with roots down south. Chris started paddling at the age of 14 and loves to paddle Dartmoor's wild rivers and estuarys. Chris loves being in nature & being active and loves the group aspect that comes with paddle sports. Chris’s favourite piece of kit is his drysuit, “once you bite the bullet and buy a drysuit it drastically changes your paddling experience” 

Chris’s talents have lead him to his own outdoor adventure company called Dartmoor Adventures and you can check him out here: Welcome to Dartmoor Adventures - Dartmoor Adventures


Our Shop Friends

Honourable mentions, ambassadors for our sport and for our shops in their own unique way.

We’re grateful to have friends of the shop who as like minded paddlers we’ve got to know and share times on the water.

Ambrose Kitchen (Aged 5) – I started paddling when I was 2. I love doing the paddling with my mummy and I like it when we bring snacks and jelly babies. My favourite place to paddle is Wales, in the canoes over that big bridge thingy (Ponycysyllte Aquaduct). I currently paddle my Pyranha Rebel. I want to go one some white waters but not big waterfalls. My favourite photo is this one with mummy when we picked up my very own kayak on my birthday”

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Emma Kitchen – I started paddling when I was 16. I love it because it challenges you as little or as much as you want it to. It allows you to explore places you wouldn’t usually see from paths or roads and it gives you a chance to recharge. I love it for the people I've met and the friendships that have been formed. My favourite piece of kit is currently my Pyranha Ripper, it keeps me on my toes and fits me perfectly. The photo below is my first every surf on the Kent aided by friends, highlighting what kayaking is all about.


Mike Ryder (Mike Ryder Coaching) – A local freelance paddle sport & first aid coach. Mike is a fantastic coach and has guided many new instructors through their qualifications. Mike often brings biscuits whenever he comes in, and that always goes down well. He can also claim possibly one of the best photos ever taken on an Foundation Safety and Rescue course, as all his clients accidentally fell in at the same time when Mike happened to be taking a selfie!

You can fine Mike here: Mike Ryder Coaching | Facebook


TNR Outdoors

Big shout out to the gents at TNR coaching for hosting our new store in North Wales. They’ve been superb and are really driving forwards with development at the site at Mile end Mill. Rich, Tom and Adam are all passionate paddlers and like us, want to see the Mill become the best facility it can be for all paddling disciplines!

You can find TNR and all the outdoor services they offer here: TNR Outdoors | Facebook


And we wouldn’t be hear without our customers, talking to you and helping plan your trips and seeing your photos is what makes us tick – so thank you!