About Matt


I have been working in the outdoors for over 20 years, in a wide variety of coaching environments. Early experiences as an activity instructor at a Yorkshire outdoor education centre led to employment as a chief instructor at a multi-activity centre in Shropshire.

In 2003 I completed a BSc (Hons) Degree in Outdoor & Environmental Education at Liverpool John Moores University. Post-graduation, I gained a passion for coaching skill development and instructor training, with involvement in delivering British Canoeing Coach Education courses.

A move to North Wales gave me the opportunity to further this experience, to develop my own paddling skills and to work in challenging settings with diverse groups of clients and students. During this time, I provided BC Coach Education courses and Coach Update weekends for Canoe Wales & Canoe England.

In 2008 I completed a PGCE in Physical Education which led to employment as a PE teacher at a sports college in Manchester. I spent 6 years as a Faculty Lead for Education, Access & Creative Industries. I was also Course Leader of the Outdoor Adventure Studies Foundation Degree & BA in Outdoor Leadership at Hugh Baird University Centre, Liverpool.

From 2022 I am employed as Head of Centre at an established Liverpool-based Outdoor Education Centre.

I’ve paddled throughout the UK and Europe, as a British Canoeing level 4 White Water Kayak Coach, Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach, Canoe Coach and provider of multiple British Canoeing coach education, leadership and personal performance awards. I love working with new and experienced paddlers alike.

Film Making

Since 2008 I’ve been filming / producing our Kayak Essentials instructional DVDs and have discovered a new passion for all aspects of the process. I hope that future opportunities will see me do more of this work and other related activities.
We recently won two awards:

Best Instructional Film ‘Sea Kayak Essentials Vol 2’ at the 2017 Reel Paddling Film Festival
SeeMôr Film Festival for ‘On Celtic Tides’ – the story of Nick Cunliffe’s and John Jackson’s epic round-Anglesey swim

Academic Study

In 2019 I achieved an MA in Sports Coaching, and has developed an interest in a wide range of research topics linked to coaching and the outdoors. These include the use and validity of observing peers, developing communities of practice and the mechanisms used by coaches and educators when developing decision-making skills in their students.

My Masters dissertation focuses on situational awareness of sea kayak guides and how situational demands impact on this. Long term, I am aiming to complete a Professional Doctorate in Elite Performance.

matt swellies

Paddlesport Qualifications

Level 4 White Water Kayak Coach
Advanced White Water Kayak Leader

Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach
Advanced Sea Kayak Leader

Moderate Water Canoe Coach
Moderate water leader (open canoe)

British Canoeing Provider 

FSRT Provider
Personal Performance Award Provider
(across disciplines)

Paddlesport Leader Provider
Paddlesport Instructor Provider

Core Coach Training Tutor
Sheltered Water (canoe & kayak) Tutor/Assessor

Sea Kayak Coach Tutor/ Assessor

Guide Module Provider:
Leadership / Customer Experience / Trip Planning & Organisation / Camp Craft & Expedition Skills
Guide Module Endorser

Other Qualifications

UK Mountain Leader (summer conditions)
UK Rock Climbing Instructor

Academic qualifications

BSc (Hons) Outdoor & Environmental Education
PGCE Physical Education – with QTS
MA Sports Coaching