Four young paddlers take on the 125-mile charity canoe challenge

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FOUR young paddlers took part in an epic 125-mile canoe race to benefit a Hampshire activity center that provides opportunities for people with additional needs.

Helen Penny, Willow Richards, Harold Berendsen and Luke Fraser of Sparsholt and Barton Peveril colleges took part in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race.

They have raised £2,000 for the QE2 Activity Center at River Hamble Country Park.

READ ALSO : The QE2 activity center welcomes 150 motorcyclists during a charity outing

Helen told the Daily Echo: ‘It all started with a ‘try a boat’ session on the college lake and that was it, we fell in love.

We started training for the canoe race from Devizes to Westminster, an opportunity we just couldn’t turn down, last June.

“After a few involuntary swims, we started to master the marathon kayaks.

“Harold’s dad and my mum had both done the DW in the past and in the beginning our biggest motivation was to try and beat their times. But then we decided to fundraise for the QE2 Activity Center.

“Last year, with the college, we had the chance to go and help them put up some fencing for a new low ropes course. Seeing firsthand what this charity does, we know that every penny we raise will go a long way to help change lives through outdoor activities.

Harold added: “Participating in Devizes to Westminster was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was tough, very tough, but it was worth all the hard work and commitment. Crossing the finish line and hearing our family and friends screaming and cheering and knowing we made it is something we will never forget.

“We are all very proud to have raised so much for the QE2 activity centre. The hardest part for me was day 3, I had strained a muscle in my back, had blisters on my hands and ached all over…but I was determined to finish.

QE2 Activity Center Manager Phil Oates said: “A big thank you to the paddlers, their coaches, parents, support crews and everyone who donated.”

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