Standup for the Cure comes to London

Words by Anne Egan
Photos by Anita Harris and Tom Griffiths

“We were thrilled with the success of Standup for the Cure events in California that have raised more than £200,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s partner charity in America. We are honoured to have the event come to Great Britain. As a Brit, and a breast cancer survivor myself, I am committed to raising awareness of the importance of early detection. One in eight of us will be diagnosed with the disease and finding it early is the key to a successful outcome.” Judie Vivian.

standup for the cure

The first annual Standup for the Cure event was held at London’s Paddington Basin on Friday September 12th – SUP Mag UK’s Anne Egan reports.

This inaugural event in the UK came from the US based charity, Standup for the Cure – founded by Judie Vivian – that began in California just a few years ago. Judie, a breast cancer survivor, and originally from the UK, decided as a result of the success and momentum of the charity in the US she would extend the work to the UK – hopefully benefiting women here and helping save many more lives.

The aim of Standup for the Cure is to use SUP to increase awareness of the need for early detection and intervention in the treatment of breast cancer that affects so many women. It also introduces people to the wonderful activity that is stand up paddle boarding.

We were especially lucky to have Jo Hamilton Vale with us who had just completed the 11 City Tour in which she earned a fabulous second place – even more fabulous considering she had dislocated her shoulder during the event. Jo herself has experienced and survived breast cancer and knows how vital early detection is. Jo kindly shared tips and advice and answered any questions we had about SUP.

Throughout we were all well cared for by the team from Active 360 and the wonderful canoeists who escorted us safely through the canal system.

standup for the cure

Stand up paddle boarding lessons and demos, SUP yoga and pilates sessions were provided to all participants on the day which concluded with a sunset mass pink paddle towards Camden and back again. Everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and the fun of paddling together to Little Venice, through spooky dark ancient tunnels and on to Regent’s Park.

Two beginners, Zoe and Louise, like many others, who had travelled some distance to be part of the day, both found their SUP legs very quickly and expressed how fantastic the experience had been for them both.

The mood was one of mutual support and humour with everyone being encouraged to try whatever they wished. Participants were encouraged to wear pink – and that we did! The best dressed man had to be Mo sporting a wonderful pink tutu and a smile as broad as the ocean. He was constantly on hand to guide and encourage us all.

One or two took a brief unscheduled dip into the canal but climbed back on their boards and carried on to enjoy the atmosphere of camaraderie and fun. Once everyone had arrived back at the basin those of us who were not rushing home rendezvoused at the Union Canal pub for refreshment and to reflect on the wonderful day it truly had been.

Next year’s event is set to be bigger still so keep your eye out for the date and come along with friends and family. Not only will you have an unforgettable day but you will be making a difference and helping save many lives.

Early negotiations are in place to hold the 2015 ‘Standup for the Cure’ on the Serpentine, in Hyde Park, lets do everything possible to make this happen.

standup for the cure

Judie Vivian shared her view of the event with us: “The Active 360 team of Paul Hyman, Phil Sayers and Emily Yoon were absolutely brilliant! They planned and prepared a SUPer event with great support from their merry band of marshalls, yoga and pilates instructors. Delicious cool drinks, generously provided by Alice at Alibi, quenched thirsts and the team from Jobe lined up a huge fleet of demo gear for our participants to try.

“Joanne Hamilton Vale, the British SUP Champion, gave a great tech talk on racing tips and a SUP demonstration before racing against Judie and Emily (giving both a sweet starting time advantage).

“Natalie joined us from Breakthrough Breast Cancer to share important data regarding the disease – 50,000 women in the UK will be diagnosed this year and 12,000 will die. Encouragingly, she also shared that 30 minutes of exercise every day can reduce the risk by 20%, giving us all the great incentive to paddle more.

“Jordana from the Crew Room displayed a large range of SUP clothes and an especially great Standup for the Cure pink jersey in breathable bamboo and charcoal fabric – a MUST HAVE for all chic SUPers.

“The happy sunny day was filled with laughter and hugs as participants took to the water, new friendships were forged and the day was capped off by a magical SUP paddle tour of London’s waterways. The group in pink paddled together through Regent’s Park to the London Zoo and back, lighting up the waterways with their headlights and luminous wrist bands when the sun set.”

Louise Anderson a friend of Anne Egan gave her account of the day, “When Anne first suggested joining her in a cancer fundraising day, I was happy to join in – any excuse to spend a day with my lovely friend. Then when I was sent details of Standup for the Cure and I realised it was a SUP event, I wasn’t quite so happy to join in! My only experience of SUP was a six-foot wobble on a river feeling petrified I was going to fall in and feeling so pleased when I got get back off onto dry land!

standup for the cure

“Well, Friday 12th September was a completely different experience. As we approached the sunny Paddington Basin a crowd of pink could be seen from across the Grand Union Canal. Then we saw the welcoming friendly faces. Judie Vivian who organised it all was really interesting to talk to as was Joanne Hamilton-Vale who is women’s no. 1 SUP and at 47 (same age as me) was enlightening, as she has only been racing for a year.

“After being issued with pink Standup for the Cure t-shirts and wrist bands we were straight onto the paddle board with the very encouraging pilates teacher Kristiana. Pilates on the SUP?

“I questioned if that was a good idea but I actually felt so stable and if anything it’s the best way to find your balance and give you that initial confidence.

“Late afternoon all of us set of on a ‘sea of pink’ mass paddle from Paddington towards Camden – taking in all the beautiful buildings, boats and waterside night life and through a 200m tunnel with only the odd head torch and a few glow bands to light our way.

“What an amazing day! And a brilliant sense of achievement. If anyone had suggested spending almost 10 hours on and around a London canal on a glorified surf board my answer would have undoubtedly been No! But I am soooo glad I gave it a chance – can’t wait for the next one!”

Event director Paul Hyman, Active 360, said, “Standup for the Cure’s event was an excellent opportunity for families, friends and survivors to get together, have a great day filled with fun while raising money and ultimately save lives by doing something they love.’ 

standup for the cure

The event was hosted by the Active 360 team led by Paul Hyman and was supported generously by Jobe Sports UK, Alibi Health Drinks and Crew Room Clothing. On behalf of SUP Mag UK and all the paddlers at Standup for the Cure we would like to extend our thanks to Anita Harris ( and Tom Griffiths on behalf of Alibi Drink ( for allowing us to share their beautiful photographic memories of this special day.

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