Crew in charity canoe challenge

PUBLISHED: 05:42 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 21:35 29 May 2010

From left, Jamie Green, Jason Claydon, Scott Sanford, Dan Mooney, Gary Wain and Simon Stretch - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

From left, Jamie Green, Jason Claydon, Scott Sanford, Dan Mooney, Gary Wain and Simon Stretch - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

A TEAM of eight firefighters and two friends are training to be the first people to row from Bishop s Stortford to Bristol in Canadian style canoes. It is a 217-mile trip that will take the Dunmow crew through 153 locks and across six waterways and they a

A TEAM of eight firefighters and two friends are training to be the first people to row from Bishop's Stortford to Bristol in Canadian style canoes.

It is a 217-mile trip that will take the Dunmow crew through 153 locks and across six waterways and they are doing it all to raise money for charity.

Organiser Barry Bisset-Smith, a Dunmow firefighter, said: "I got the idea after reading the book Boogie Up the River by Mark Wallington where the lead character tries to find the source of the river Thames.

"I got a map and found that by using a combination of waterways, you can get from Bishop's Stortford all the way to the Severn Estuary."

The team will leave Bishop's Stortford on July 21, paddle down to the river Lea and then on to the Grand Union Canal.

The team will leave the GUC and join the Thames when it is smaller, and less dangerous for smaller craft, and then get onto the Kennet and Avon canal, which goes all the way through Bath and on to Bristol.

The crew are hoping to raise £20,000 for two charities: the Burned Children's Club, which offers rehabilitation for children who have suffered burns in accidents, and the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund, which offers help and support to firefighters and their families who have suffered injuries.

"These are close to our hearts as last September one of our crew, David, died. He was only 38. The FSNBF offered a lot of support to his family and that meant a great deal to us."

Two of the team have recently returned to duty after receiving rehabilitation treatment for injuries. "They don't want their names mentioned but they received a massive amount of help from a clinic in Devon," said Mr Bisset-Smith.

"As retained firefighters, we get very little sick pay when we are not able to work so it is very important to us to be able to get back to work quickly."

The team took delivery of its first of four canoes supplied with a massive discount by Avoncraft in Welwyn Garden City at the weekend. The other three canoes are due to be delivered by Saturday along with other equipment.

"I've done some research on this and I can't find any examples of anyone else doing this trip. It's quite exciting. It feels like were pioneers," added Mr Bisset-Smith who hopes the trip will take eight days to complete.

People wanting to make a donation can go to www.dunmowgowest.co.uk or www.justgiving.com/gowest

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