At the start of the year we made the decision to host the 2021 Red Paddle Co photoshoot on our home shores, here in the UK. At the time, we thought it might be a risky call- we all know how unpredictable the British weather can be, yet with the way things have panned out this year, it was one of the best decisions we could’ve made.
Fortunately the weather played nice – although our first planned date was a total washout thanks to wind gusts of 30+ knots and torrential down pours! We also chose to invite, meet and paddle with a bunch of passionate paddlers from the UK SUP community.
Following a shoutout for models over the summer, we were overwhelmed with the response from people across the nation who were keen to get involved and represent our new 2021 range. Two such paddlers, Lizzie and Stuart Croxford, got in touch to say they’re huge fans of paddle boarding and had successfully made it part of their daily life.
Come September we’d selected Stu and Lizzie to model for our Voyager shoot. Our team were amazed by their positive energy and spirit throughout the (12 hour!) day and what started as a cool and cloudy morning ended in glorious sunshine and a perfect September sunset…
Having spent the day getting to know the guys and hearing their inspiring story, we thought we’d learn a little more about how and why they incorporate SUP and sport into their daily lives…
Lizzie – I am a qualified physiotherapist, and over the years I’ve developed extensive knowledge into physical and mental health rehabilitation by understanding how movement and breath work can have a huge role in this.
I’m now working as a Movement Specialist incorporating my Physiotherapy, Yoga, Pilates and Sports Massage Training to help clients towards their goals.
Stu – I’ve always loved adventure and being outdoors. In 2007 I joined the British Army after leaving university and served as an Infantry Officer.
Unfortunately suffering lifechanging injuries in 2012 put a stop to my career and forced me into extensive physical rehabilitation. This period was tough, but it was a chance to learn and adapt to make sure I didn’t lose my identity and what I loved doing just because of a physical disability.
I’m now working as a performance coach where I’m able to pull my skills from the military and my personal rehabilitation journey alongside my SUP and cycling instructor qualifications.
“Stand-up paddling provided us with the means to physically challenge our bodies, spend quality time together but also provided an incredible place for mental release when we need it the most.”
Lizzie – On 30th Dec 2012 (where the name of the company takes it origin) Stu was injured in a vehicle IED whilst serving with the British Military, in Afghanistan. He spent the next couple of years learning to walk again but was left with the unfortunate decision to have his leg amputated after a second accident which compounded his injuries.
It’s safe to say that day changed our lives forever and we have always wanted to make sure it was for the positive, regardless of the journey. As Stuart went through an extensive journey for his physical recovery, we both suffered mentally as a result of it. However, what we learnt during this time has become the basis of the business we now run today, hence the name reflecting this life changing date.
We relocated to Devon a few months ago. Movement, the outdoors and exercise have been at the forefront of our own recovery journey and we want this to be the same for all our clients.
I recently launched ‘The Movement Room’, an online members page where people can access movement-based videos for the Body & Mind. We plan to build on this to offer movement for specific sports, pregnancy and adaptive movement for those with injury or physical limitations like Stuart. It will also offer tips on motivation/inspiration, challenges, events, community networks and retreats, something we hope to offer in the coming years. Our dream for ThreeZero12 is for it to become a go to place for outdoor activities, active weekend escapes and training programs that take a mindful approach to the body.
Lizzie – A few years ago, Stu was looking for an inflatable touring board to head out and complete the Yukon River Quest (a 715km paddle race over 72hrs on the Yukon River) in Canada. After comparing quite a few of the top brands at the time, the Red Paddle 13’2 Explorer (now Voyager) seemed like the best inflatable paddle board for the challenge. After years of use and being tested around the world, we were so impressed with the build quality and Red Paddle’s constant drive to innovate with new technology for iSUPs.
It was an easy decision to go with Red Paddle when we were looking to stock boards for our company too. Especially with the wide range of boards and the great durability and stability they offer, in comparison to other brands on the market.
We both love to paddle because it’s given us a different way to explore the outdoors via the water. It’s a fantastic form of physical exercise for the whole body as it can provide you with a cardio and strength-based exercise in one. We also get to share it with our pooch who would usually have to wait patiently at home if we were out on our bikes 😀
“I realised quite quickly that trauma can and does have a huge impact on not just the individual involved but those around them and that it was ok to be suffering.”
Lizzie – One of the biggest challenges I faced following Stuarts injury was the impact it had on my mental health. Stuart was injured 9 months into our relationship and then spent the next 2 years in and out of hospital as a result. I continued as anyone would to support him and help him through that time. What I hadn’t appreciated was just how much it had affected me. Not until I burnt out in 2016 and needed to take time out of my job. I came to the realisation quite quickly that trauma can and does have a huge impact on those around the individual involved and that it was ok to be suffering.
As a result, stand up paddling has provided us with a means to physically challenge our bodies, spend quality time together out on the water but also provides an incredible place for headspace and mental release when we need it the most. By seeing the value, it has provided the two of us over the years, it has helped us to deliver a similar experience to clients either on our adventure days out or on our retreats.
“For me it’s the freedom and headspace you get from being outdoors. Nature has an amazing way of grounding you, allowing yourself the space, the time to think and escape. ”
Lizzie – I initially spent a lot of time running, which became my way to deal with my mental health for several years. When we both hit rock bottom in 2016, we realised we needed to find a way to spend more quality time together. As Stuart loves his bike and could be out for hours at a time, I felt this was something I needed to try and haven’t looked back since.
When we weren’t out cycling or walking the dog, we were then out on our paddle boards (not the easiest back in London) and then outdoor swimming. In the last few years outdoor activities have provided us much needed mental escape from the life we lived in London. They gave us a shared passion that has helped us to spend quality time together and a way of keeping physical fit and healthy too.
Lizzie – We had such a super day and were made to feel so welcome and looked after all day, which is testament to the amazing teamwork and atmosphere created by all of you at Red Paddle. Stu was really impressed with the Voyager boards and their new V-hull that we were filming on for the day and I am super excited to buy a compact so that we can adventure further on our days out.
Stu – Bobby, our miniature dachshund was not a big fan of water, but we ensured he had a good life jacket (The Red Original one, of course) and introduced him slowly to the board at the start. When we first introduced him, we lived in London so our main access to water was the river.
If you’re starting with a dog on the board for the first time, try and find a calm area of water like a slow-moving river/canal to ensure they don’t get unsettled. Build up their time on the board slowly and give them lots of praise to make sure they associate it with something fun. A well fitted dog lifejacket is also a must with a handle on their back to help you lift them back out of the water if they do go for a swim.
Bobby is a small dog with a low centre of gravity which makes it easier for him balance and doesn’t affect the balance of your board when he moves around. That may be a little different with our Labrador puppy who is starting to love the water and doesn’t like to sit still for long, so we’ll see!
A big thanks to Stu and Lizzie for taking time to chat with us and sharing their inspiring story. If you’d like to learn more about Lizzie and Stu’s journey, then hop over to https://www.threezero12.co.uk/ or follow them on Instagram @threezero12 for more inspiration and adorable pics of Bobby and Red the puppy in action!