Paralympian, Tim Lodge, supports the BRIT Ambassador family and champions the annual BRIT Challenge
We are delighted that GB Paralympic Canoeist, Tim Lodge is part of our BRIT Ambassador family and championing the BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Involved in the sport from an early age, Tim has had a successful time across numerous disciplines including canoe marathon, sprint and paracanoe, where he medalled in a number of national and international competitions. Tim has previously been the athlete representative with British Canoeing, a member of the British Athletes Commission and Chair of the International Canoe Federation Athletes Commission. He is currently a member of the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Committee for The International Olympic Committee.
“Having battled with disability, depression and anxiety, I understand the challenges that mental health difficulties can bring, particularly for young adults. Having experienced bullying at school and the loss of my Dad at 14, I know how hard it can be to deal with feelings and emotions. I didn’t really address or understand them until later on in my life. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives and I am mindful that it has further impacted the lives of young adults and students with existing mental health difficulties, disabilities and who are vulnerable.
The BRIT Challenge is a great way to improve mental health and fitness and be part of a team feelgood February fundraiser. I hope very UK university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union embrace the opportunity to enter teams and encourage their students and staff to participate.
I am delighted that the annual BRIT Challenge has been designed to be inclusive to enable students and staff of all abilities to take part in many different ways; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding) When I was younger, canoeing enabled me to focus on something positive. I have learnt so much on my journey to become a Paralympic Athlete and my passion now is to teach this to others. I hope students across the UK will try canoeing as part of their BRIT Challenge and add the distance they cover to their team’s 2,022 mile target.
I encourage my fellow Paralympians, and Olympians elite athletes from all sports, to join our BRIT Ambassador family, promote the BRIT Challenge at a university or college of their choice, encourage participation, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion.
I look forward to supporting and encouraging students and staff at the University of Surrey as they take on the BRIT Challenge.”
GB Paralympic Canoeist
Wellbeing and Mental Health Advocate
Member of the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Committee for The International Olympic Committee
Born with talipes, club feet, Tim had the worst case his surgeon had ever seen and has been through 54 anaesthetics to assist in correcting his disability. He was operated on from birth and spent a lot of his holidays in hospital or in plaster post-surgery.
Tim started canoeing when he was nine. He’s tried other sports but found them difficult and he always felt different; particularly the way he moved and ran compared to other children. As soon Tim sat in a boat, he felt the same as everyone else for the first time in his life.
From the age of 11 to 13, Tim’s feet where completely reconstructed and each foot took a year to heal. In the middle of this, Tim started a new school where he only knew two people. On his very first day, he was in a wheelchair with a plaster soaked in blood. Tim found it very hard to try and fit in and join in with the other kids. He was bullied, had his crutches kicked away and taken off of him many times and spent some dark days in his bedroom at home.
After this, at the age of 14, Tim lost his Dad. It was a terrible shock and something he didn’t really address or understand until later on in my life. To lose his Dad so suddenly was terrifying.
On January 14th, 2013, Tim received a call from an old canoeing coach David Battershell, asking if he wanted to take up the sport again as it had become part of the Paralympic programme. That phone call changed Tim’s life. At the time, Tim felt that his life was empty and that call that gave him the biggest jolt I could’ve wished for. Being involved in canoeing has enabled Tim to accept his disability, accept the loss of his father and accept the loss of his mother. Tim firmly believes that an active body settles the active mind and having battled with disability, depression and anxiety, canoeing makes Tim feel equal.
Away from elite competition, Tim has fulfilled a number of appointments including Chair of the International Canoe Federation Athletes Committee, member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Federation, Athlete Representative with British Canoeing and a member of the British Athletes Commission.
Tim is currently a member of the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Committee for The International Olympic Committee.
Tim is an inspirational man and talks openly, with honesty and sincerity, about his life, journey and challenges. He has tackled mental health issues throughout his life and as a GB Paralympic Canoeist, Tim shows extraordinary leadership in order to give fellow athletes the courage to ask for support and feel able to discuss their own mental health so they do not feel isolated.
Having recently undergone extensive surgery, Tim is making a recovery and hopes to be able to walk again soon.
Away from his rigorous training regime as an elite athlete, Tim presents his unique learning experiences via workshops to companies across the UK through his company, ZENVAL.
Anyone interested in knowing more about canoeing can find out more on the British Canoeing website.
You can follow Tim on Twitter.