Archive for July, 2012

A few blogs ago, when we were somewhere at the top of Britain, I wrote about the West of England MS Therapy Centre, one of the charities we are supporting. In this little blog I say a little more about two of the others we are also supporting: Over The Wall and Help For Heroes.

Over The Wall

Over The Wall is a national children’s charity. It’s purpose is to provide life-changing experiences to children and young people aged 8-17 who are affected by serious and life limiting illnesses. They do this by offering free activity camps specifically developed to foster coping, resilience, self-esteem and confidence. Campers get a chance to take part in the sort of games and adventures that they are usually excluded from because their school can’t cope with their medical challenges or perhaps because they have been hospitalised for a long time.

Having volunteered for this charity for several years, Tanya and I have experienced first hand how life changing the camps can be for the families and for the volunteers too. But don’t take my word for it, here is what some of them have said:

“You all made me feel like a normal boy, and I loved that because at my school the kids don’t treat me like that. I’d love camp to last forever, if my Nan could come too.”
– Camper

“The camp was one of the best experiences that Matthew has had I have never seen him so enthused! He came home and said at school nobody wants him in their team but at camp he found a team that accepted people for who they are without prejudice. A fantastic time.” – Parent

“Once again a huge Thank You to all involved, especially the volunteers. My nephew is going to apply to volunteer as he was very much affected by Ellie’s chat. Ellie had a fantastic time she clearly felt respected for being ‘her’ which doesn’t always happen in school. She was full of chat too about all aspects of camp. The whole ethos clearly lends itself to making a life changing camp, volunteers are well chosen.” – Parent

“ The Over The Wall camp is the best thing that has ever happened to us as a family.”-Parent – Scotland Camp

Help for Heroes

Help for Heroes perhaps needs less introduction as to it’s purpose and motivation. But I think these quotes illustrate nicely the many ways in which it has made a very real difference to service men and women’s lives.

Thank you so much for the road bike that was funded for me via Battle Back. Physical activity and exercise has always played a huge role in my life and now, after 3 ½ years of hospital treatment and rehabilitation, I can look forward to keeping fit and taking on a few challenges. The bike will be central to those efforts. So, thank you to Help for Heroes for their generosity to me personally and also, with my ‘senior calamity’ hat on, for the quite tremendous practical support it provides every day for some very damaged but special young Servicemen and women and their families. They deserve nothing less and when H4H is involved, will receive nothing less. Thank you!

The support that has been given to me by Help for Heroes is very overwhelming from financing a picture framing course and examination to the building of my workshop.

Help for Heroes have helped me and others get back into an active lifestyle, whether it be things like RAAM or the BBBR. They have also helped me with funding for equipment etc.

I am truly grateful for the support I have received from Help for Heroes, it has enabled me to compete as an international athlete, which I would never have thought possible.

Support from little gestures to large scale projects that have helped me through rehab. An amazing support network for me and my family! A true ‘Band of Brothers.’

H4H has given me and other Service personnel the opportunities to try new things and to see other soldiers with serious injuries, both different and similar to my own, striving under adversity, has given me the confidence to move forward and remains a constant reminder of who we are. We are different! H4H has recognised that fact and given us all a chance to be the very best we can post injury! I hope that I can continue to be an inspiration and mentor to other soldiers who are coming to terms with life changing injuries.

To me, Help for Heroes means love, support and friendship.

If you can help us in any way to help these two charities continue to make a difference please click on our donate button on our blog menu.


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Friday night we wild camped at Gibraltar Point (aka south Skegness). The sunset cast a deep orange glow across the sky and we could just make out the lights on the north Norfolk coast as it got darker. It was an eerily quiet evening. I guess most were glued to the TV watching the opening ceremony. I climbed into my tent, pulled out the iPhone and to my surprise I had a great signal and was able to join about 1 billion others who also watched opening ceremony. Thought it was brilliant. Pitched perfectly and made me feel very proud to be British.

Saturday morning was a short hop across the Wash – 17 miles. A key milestone as it means we have only one more significant crossing left – the Thames Estuary. We managed to get stream all the way and landed the other side in under 4 hours. The Wash is a tidal gate so north of it the flood tide flows south and ebb north, south of it and it’s the other way round. That means if you time it right you can cross with stream all the way. We did and it was glorious to average over 4.5knts!

We pushed on further to Wells Next to the Sea where my sister, Jane and her family together with my mum were waiting to meet us. It was so good to see them. And so good of them to make the journey to see us. Thanks guys! A visit like this at the start of the trip would have been hard emotionally I think to say goodbye again but now as we approach the final stages it is almost a welcome home visit. A good morale booster.

Sunday we made it as far as Bacton Gas Terminal and as I finish writing this blog update in my tent on the sea defences this Monday morning I can hear it hum in the background.

The paddle yesterday was great. 30 miles with mostly a tail wind and good stream in our favour most of the way. The only excitement for the day was getting caught in a massive thunder storm. We saw the dark cloud coming over. Geoff had spotted a nice cafe and some shelter. He suggested we stop but I thought it would miss us and we should paddle on. Got that one wrong.

We popped our video cameras on to record the torrential rain which flattened the sea and bounced back up a few Inches to create a mist like layer over the water. Just as we were marvelling in the scene the lightening and thunder started. We made our way to shore but no place to land because of the sea defences along this coast. So we carried on, hunkering down trying to stop the rain going down our necks. Didn’t work. Forked lighting now and hail stones. Painful on the hands so we rafted up for a few minutes. And then it was over. Can’t wait to see that footage when we get back!

Aiming for south of Gt Yarmouth today!


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Our last night in the north east. East Anglia tomorrow and we reckon only 21 days paddling to go!

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Last Friday, Geoff and I paddled into Cullercoats harbour. This was a very special milestone for me as just down the road live my brother in law, Roger and his partner, Salome and her amazing children, Cameron and Caitlin.

We made it a short paddling day so we could spend some time with them and also so that we could get a wash on too!

But what made this particular stopover even more special is that we had timed it perfectly to see Salome and Roger’s new baby boy, Noah. What a cutie! Noah that is not Roger.

Can’t believe how good Salome looked after only 48 hours after having given birth!

The guys looked after us so well and even organised with Frank and Ben at the local RNLI station to store our kayaks for us! Thanks Frank and Ben and was great chatting to you on Saturday morning.





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Had a lovely visit from a couple of friends, Jan and Tony, last night. So good to see them and get a little break from our little adventure. They left us with a yummy bag of treats too! Thanks guys!

We were up at a civilised time this morning 8am. First time in 3 nights we weren’t in a bivvy bag so we actually slept!

Paddled 7 miles this morning. The coastline is eroding badly along this stretch. Every so often you can see water and other service pipes exposed in the face of the small cliffs. A hint of what once stood on the ground above.

Have just stopped for breakfast number two in Hornsea. Great egg and bacon banjo! Might even have another. Oh and some cake. I love this expedition!





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Not today we’re not!

Left Whitby an managed 6 miles this morning. There we strong gusting headwinds but manageable until we got to Robin Hood Bay and paddled into a brick wall. Constant F6 and gusting F7.

Still another 12 miles to Scarborough and nowhere to stop in between.

30 mins later we are sitting in the shelter of a cliff top cafe overlooking the bay. Kind of surreal that you can be battling such strong winds one minute and then back in the normal world the next.



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This is where we stayed last night. Like to see Geoff try and pack this up in his kayak! Thanks to Hartlepool Marina for putting us up and storing the kayaks safely!



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