It is with considerable sadness that we announce the passing of P&H Founder, David Frank Patrick on the 7th of January 2022 at the age of 83.
Dave started canoeing in the late 50s and joined Midland Canoe Club in the early 60s, where he competed in Slalom in the top division in both K1 & C1. He was later the goalie for Midland CC’s Canoe Polo team in the 80s, with the team winning the infamous East Midlands Canoe Polo League.
He helped run many slalom competitions for Midland CC at Darley Abbey, Tryweryn, & Holme Pierrepont, becoming chairman and then president at Midland CC.
In his working life, Dave started out as a chemist at Rolls Royce, until in May 1967 he founded P&H Fibre Glass Products with a builder called Mr. Harrison.
Throughout the remainder of 1967 and the beginning of 1968, they created and began to produce the first P&H Fibreglass products including the ‘Soar Valley Special’ canoe (1968), the ‘Bat MK 2’ (1968) and the Hahn ‘Speed’ kayak (1969). The partnership of Patrick & Harrison came to an end in 1968, but Dave continued to run the company by himself.
As the seventies began, Dave worked with the top designers of the time and expanded the range to produce the ‘Swift’ and added four new models to the Hahn range – the ‘Quick’, the ‘New’, the ‘Dart’, and the ‘Swing’.
In late 1970 P&H began to sell dry suits and added two more Hahn canoes to the range, as well as the ‘Munich 72’, which was chosen by the then current world champion for his next year’s debut at the world championships. This now extensive range was shown at Crystal Palace.
In 1975, under Dave’s leadership, P&H became a founding member of the British Canoe Manufacturers Association.
P&H and Dave Patrick’s relationship with Pyranha began in 1978 when P&H began to produce Pyranha designs including the ‘Orinoco’ & ‘Elite 80SS’.
1979 saw Dave partner with Derek Hutchinson to introduce a whole new range of sea kayaks, starting with the ‘Umnak’ and ‘Icefloe’. This was also the same year Dave hired current Production Manager, Perran Shreeve, who remembers him as a hard but fair boss.
The 80s saw a flurry of successful sea kayaks, wildwater racers, surf kayaks, slalom kayaks, and polo kayaks from P&H, with the popularity of the company’s products going through the roof and in 1988, Dave bought the ground-breaking shop, No Limits at Holme Pierrepont after the success of the slalom course constructed there in 1986.
Things didn’t slow down in the 90s, with Dave sponsoring five of the GB Olympic Slalom Team at the Barcelona Olympics in ‘92, launching one of the first serious plastic sea kayaks, the Capella, and developing the world’s first pre-preg carbon slalom kayak using F1 technology in 1995. This boat went on to win the Slalom World Championships in ‘95 and to this day is still on show at the London Science Museum.
Dave retired in 1998 and took up flying model planes, although at the start he wasn’t particularly good, and had a bench in the corner of the P&H workshop to fix them at.
When Julian Patrick (Dave’s eldest son) left P&H to pursue his interest in the internet gaming industry in 2000, Dave came back out of retirement for a short time to help Peter Orton & Perran Shreeve run the company, but in 2001, Carole finally got Dave to retire ‘properly’ and move down to Cornwall where they travelled around in their camper van, with Dave enjoying playing golf and flying his model aircraft.
After a long and enjoyable working relationship, and out of a desire to continue the legacy of the company Dave had built, Pyranha purchased the P&H Company from Dave in 2003.
Dave will be sadly missed, and our thoughts go out to his wife, Carole, daughter, Jane, and sons, Julian & Paul, as well as the rest of the family.