In the following months we will be introducing our new staff members in our blog. As our team is growing we want to give you the opportunity to see who we are and hear the interesting stories behind the faces you’ll most likely soon bump into when you come around our base. First, let us introduce you Gavin Lewis, our new Operations Manager who arrived into our team in December. Gavin made a huge life change by leaving his steady life and career in England and moved to Switzerland with his wife Mandi and their dog Molly. Gavin is our 3rd full time staff member so you will be seeing him often in Bönigen, both indoors and outdoors.

How many Swiss German words have you learned?

Well only a few, at this stage basic vocabulary as one minute someone is speaking Swiss German to me then French and German. So will get there in the end.

What made you want to move to Switzerland?

A great opportunity, which meant I could have a new adventure in a great place to live and work.

Tell us about your relationship to paddle sports?

I have been involved within paddle sports from the age of 8. I started paddling with the club scouts and have never stopped since. My passion in paddle sports led to me having a long and adventurous career, which has helped me progress into a qualified and very experienced coach. I have worked with many clubs and associations such as British Canoeing as a national trainer and coach, I have mentored canoe club coaches and supported canoe clubs to gain funding.

In my own paddling achievements I have completed the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race a few times and hope to complete it again this year. I have had many trips to Scotland and in 2017 I attempted to circumnavigate Ireland but unfortunately due to an injury I was unable to complete this challenge but I will be planning to complete it very soon. I have had many amazing adventures through paddle sportS and I have met and have got to know so many amazing people and I would not have if it were not for my passion in paddle sports and like-minded people.

Why Hightide Kayak School?

Hightide gave me a fantastic opportunity to come and join the team. I am fortunate enough that I was able to move out to Switzerland and start a new chapter of my life. Plus my wife was happy to come along with me.

How has life in Interlaken treated you so far?

Life here in the first month has been full of fun, laughter and exciting times. From staying in the fabulous hotel Oberländerhof for my first four weeks where I have been made to feel so welcome and part of the family there which has made my start so special. I have been visiting a lot of bars and restaurants and in the four weeks and I already have my favourites, My Little Thai; the Three Tells and Hüsi all serving good food.

I have also had the pleasure of visiting the dentist three times in my first two months here for a root canal which was an experience in itself, not only the visit but the bill. Let’s just say I could have bought a new kayak!

Mrs Lewis has now joined me and we have moved into a village called Ringgenberg. It’s on the hillside of the Lake Brienz which has beautiful views every day. I could not have missed the opportunity to get on to the ski slopes and thanks to Olivia Storey my first ever ski lesson was amazing and I totally loved it and can’t wait to go again soon. So life here so far is really good and we are so happy that we have made the move to Switzerland.

Are there huge differences between UK and Switzerland?

The weather is colder at the moment. The money and how much things cost, random things are really expensive. Closing times on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Better transport and time keeping. Supermarkets and shops are really small. Foods available and brands. Everything opens early.


Discipline:  K1 Racing, Sea Kayak, WW Kayak, Canoe

Current Boats: Kirton TOR K1, Rockpool Taran 16, Dagger Nomad 8.5

Shaft Choices: Epic medium wing, Werner Sherpa carbon crank

Favourite paddling places: Scotland and Slovenia  

Other hobbies: Mountain biking (fat bike) and anything outdoors

Favourite Food: Sunday roast Beef

Favourite Drink: Good Coffee and Guinness

Favourite Music: Depends on what I am doing, most music I like

Ultimate world destination to Paddle: Greenland