Canoeing fraternity mourns Powell loss

The canoeing community has been rocked by the news that popular timekeeper and administrator Neil Powell passed away on Friday morning.

Powell had been admitted to ICU during this past week, having battled with a degenerative disorder.

He was a committed, hard-working and loyal timekeeper who became a standout feature of canoeing and surfski events around the country.

“Today, the country’s canoeing fraternity, and indeed, humanity at large, lost one of the most gentle and caring individuals ever to walk the planet,” said Canoeing South Africa’s Secretary General Colin Simpkins.

“For the past 15 years or so he has served the sport through efforts on a myriad of committees and countless hours of sitting on the river banks or windswept beaches, taking times.

“He spent thousands of hours as a volunteer paramedic in Johannesburg, and eventually opened his own rapid response trauma business in Durban.

“For someone as young as Neil to be taken from us is numbingly tragic.”

Powell, who got involved in timekeeping with the Gauteng Canoe Union, was mentored by stalwart timekeeper and official John Oliver, and for many years worked alongside Oliver to handle the timekeeping at all the local, regional and national events.

The first leg of the Euro Steel McGregor Paddle Series, which takes place at Emmarentia dam in Johannesburg at 8am on Saturday, will pay tribute to Powell.