He paddled for the planet

The first time I met Bob was in the middle the Okanagan Lake arm heading in to Vernon. 

It was my second day attempting to paddle around the circumference of the lake on a paddleboard.

As I paddled in toward Vernon, a distant paddler calmly made his way steadily over to us. 

Bob Purdy had heard about our attempt and, after having paddled the length of the lake a year earlier, was eager to support us in our attempt. He had agreed to meet us in the Vernon area.

Bob introduced himself and the tall frame of a man inquisitively asked why I was paddling around the lake.

Oddly, as we were talking, Bob would wander away from my paddleboard, seemingly with another plan in mind. As someone who had only 24 hours experience on a paddleboard, I was more inclined to keep heading in the same direction I was on at that time.

A few minutes later Bob would return to our conversation and geographic location, but with some extra luggage:

  • a plastic bag
  • tin can
  • bottle.

Any trash would divert Bob from his course in an attempt to make the world a better place.

I had taken the time to read about Bob. He was in the midst of a committed program to paddle every day for an hour to show his support for changing the way we live to positively impact the planet.

In truth he really was interested in inspiring people to get committed to a cause. His was “Paddle For The Planet."

Bob was a friendly giant and from that day, we connected as friends. We were a most unlikely match, the capitalist and the environmentalist. We joked about my views of environmentalists, but one thing we were agreed upon is what a mess we have made of our planet. 

Over the years, we had several 5 a.m. paddles on Okanagan Lake, chatting, listening and watching the sunrise on a new day. Then, Bob moved to Tofino with his lovely wife, Sharon.

He was the focus of a locally produced movie, the Paddler. He would never have considered himself the star of the show and that attitude really epitomized Bob. The only thing he saw himself as was an “Elder In Training” and that perhaps is the takeaway for all of us.

You see, Bob understood that at the point where he felt he had arrived, he would have just failed his mission. He would have failed because he would have stopped influencing the world. 

To be an elder in training implies that we have more to learn, yet we are in a position of influence. That, to me, means that people are watching for our example.

Bob had nothing to hide in his life; he wore his morals and values on his shirtsleeve and he would defend them passionately. His goal was that you would believe in something so much that you would defend it passionately. 

I only have a couple for regrets in life and one of them was not being able to accompany Bob on a paddle board trip in to the Great Bear Rainforest after receiving such a special invitation from him.

He shaped my thinking at an important point in my life. He stood for something, something important and he left this world as a “world changer."

RIP Bob Purdy. 


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
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Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

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