We are based in a unique location in East London, the River Lea in Hackney. Leaside delivers inspiring and engaging outdoor activities to young people.

We offer choices to young people: encouraging them to stay in education, develop their confidence, leadership skills and ambition.

Operating within an educational framework, activities include canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking, nordic walking, offsite trips orienteering and expeditions.

In APRIL TO AUGUST 2022 there were 6490 visits to Leaside, 3652 visiting as individuals, 2838 in groups. 50% were young people.

Over the full year – 8000 visits, 4000 as individuals, 50% being young people.

39 schools and youth groups in the local area

4 of these schools are for children with Special Needs

Young people whilst having fun at Leaside, leave with transferable skills that will improve their life chances. Many of our young people have become teachers, coaches and even Olympians.

Our activities see us engage with families, adults and local community groups in a recreational manner. We strive to encourages the building of lifelong friendships, confidence-building and opportunities to become an active volunteer gain professional qualifications to enhance the community spirit of what we aim to deliver.

Meet our  Trustees

Derek Stride
Derek StrideChairman
Derek is a keen outdoor person, canoeist, climber, walker and birdwatcher He is enthusiastic about sharing these interests, and over his career in education, and as a canoe instructor, has helped introduce and support hundreds young (and older) people in developing their awareness of the outdoors.

Since joining Leaside as a member in the 1990s, he has been a volunteer instructor and organised excursions. As a trustee and Chair of the Trust, he is committed to ensuring Leaside continues to develop and engage with the local community.

Derek has other interests in his local community, and plays the bass guitar.

Retired Assistant Head Teacher. Chair of The Phoenix Autism Trust, The Phoenix School Autism Charitable Trust, The Mary Baker Trust, and trustee of the Christ Church Foundation.

Chris Heaume
Chris HeaumeTrustee
Chris became a keen kayaker after retiring from 45+ years as a youth worker in London. He loves the energy, peace and freedom in sea and river kayak touring. Born and bred in Guernsey he’s lived in or near Hackney for 50 years, with a 4-year break touring in Japan, and 5 years exploring Germany.
As a youth worker in clubs, schools, colleges, on community estates and as CEO of Central London Connexions, Chris has helped young people thrive. He also helped a group of young men set-up the ground-breaking London Gay Teenage group in 1978, trained male youth workers in work-with-boys, was an Associate Ofsted Inspector of Connexions services, has been a trustee of the Partnership for Young London since 2007, and proudly received an OBE for work with young people in London.

He’s keen to help Leaside develop an even smarter, vibrant future where young people and others continue to really enjoy themselves!

Sharon Freeman
Sharon FreemanTrustee
Sharon previously held position as School Governor at Mandeville Primary School, Hackney working with the Learning Trust and local counsellors for several years in early 2000. She is passionate about helping others, in particular transferring her business and programme management skills. She has contributed considerably in bringing a business perspective to Leaside • She is enthusiastic in creating awareness of Leaside through various community and city events……..we are still trying to get her in a canoe! • Sharon is a bit of a geek at heart with a fascination for artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as learning about microbiomes • Sharon is the CEO of Antevorta Consultants, a business and regulatory change practice in the financial industry.
Steve Miles
Steve MilesTrustee
Steven joined the board earlier this year, April 2020, as part of the Leaside’s relationship with the East London Business Alliance. As a dual qualified CA and CTA, he brings a perspective combining the strategic and financial experience he has built up over the course of his career • A keen cyclist, he grew up on the edge of the Lea Valley park and is delighted to have the opportunity to maintain and grow access to the park for the local community, via the outdoor activities and experiences that Leaside offers.
• He is an enthusiastic amateur in many outdoor pursuits but is especially fond of Stand-Up Paddleboarding on a warm sunny day – even more so if there’s an ice cream waiting at the end! • Steve is a Senior Manager within the Group Strategy function at Bupa, a multinational health insurer and healthcare provider.
Dominic Burnett
Dominic BurnettTrustee
Dominic is passionate about the outdoors and the mental and physical benefits of nature. He helped found the first Gig rowing club in London, has raised money for charities in the past by rowing across the English Channel and the Great Glen and has competed at the World Pilot Gig Championships • He lives in nearby Redbridge and is a big fan of the river Lea and the surrounding area. Relatively new to the board Dominic is looking forward to introducing more people to the benefits of being on and around the water • He joined the Trust earlier this year, April 2020 • Dominic is a Director of Operations at UBS.
Jackie Woods
Jackie WoodsEnvironmental Advocate
Jackie has lived in Hackney for over 30 years. She loves Hackney life, Marshes and the Lea Valley environments. Born and bred in Derry, N. Ireland, Jackie gained an Environmental Science degree which was put to little use during a career working in the Civil Service and public organisations! She managed IT, internal businesses and was a Project Manager delivering many change initiatives. She’s a keen kayaker having started kayaking at Uni more than 30 years ago.

After leaving the office she spent five years walking dogs in and around Clapton. It was during this time that she began kayaking again and reintroduced herself to Leaside. After witnessing firsthand the demise of the river through pollution and neglect, Jackie started volunteering locally on litter picks, tree planting and recently as a kayaking volunteer at Leaside. She has recently agreed to act as Leaside’s Environmental Advocate and has been working with us to build a five-year Environmental Strategic Plan.

Jackie is also a trustee of a Charity based in N. Ireland that works with people with profound learning and physical difficulties and their carers.