Kayakers raise £100,000 for fellow wounded veterans

An extraordinary group of veterans has become the first adaptive team to kayak from Land’s End to John O’Groats, raising more than £100,000 for charity.

The team of five, who all have life-changing injuries, took just 26 days to complete their challenge in aid of the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team (AFPST).

They paddled a total of 1,400km – hitting speeds of up to 24km per hour, with their longest day seeing them cover 95km.

The team comprised of Darren Edwards from Shropshire, Luke Wigman from Nottinghamshire, Jonny Huntington from Devon, Carl Simmons from Worcestershire, and Ben Gallagher from Herefordshire.

Expedition leader Darren said: “Words struggle to describe how it felt to complete out iconic Land’s End to John O’Groats by kayak challenge. As we paddled across the finish line after 26 incredibly-challenging days, I felt a huge sense of pride in what we had achieved as a team and as individuals. By working together, we proved that disability and injury has no bearing on the goals you can set yourself.

“Whilst there are so many incredible moments that the team and I will no doubt cherish, it is the fact that we have raised over £100,000 for AFPST which is the icing on the cake for Kayak 4 Heroes in 2021.”

The charity supports the physical and emotional recovery of wounded, injured and sick veterans through introducing them to skiing and snowboarding – and has supported all of the five men who took part in the challenge.

Trustee Elizabeth Winfield thanked the Support Crew who had enabled the challenge to take place, calling them positive, resourceful, agile and really great fun.

She added: “This trip has been incredible to be part of and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. Together, they have achieved a world-first and proved the impossible can be conquered with energy, positivity and an incredible team.

“Their commitment, determination and attitude has been unbreakable as they have pushed to the finish line through challenging waters and exhaustion. They did this for their fellow paddlers, but most importantly for those veterans and service personnel that are yet to reach out and start their recovery journey with AFPST. With the money and awareness they have raised we will be able to find these individuals who need us and take them to the snow where these paddlers all started their journey with us.

“I know this is not the end but the beginning of our next chapter together as a team. What we decide to do next with all we have learned is still to be determined, but for sure our friendships will endure way beyond the challenge, and that for me will be the greatest gift of our journey together.”

The fund-raiser is still open for donations, and can be found at www.justgiving.com/kayak4heroes.

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