Amputee ex-sailor Richard Hunt in world record attempt

Daily Echo: Richard Hunt Richard Hunt

A FORMER sailor is going back to sea – in a bid to become a record-breaker.

Royal Navy veteran Richard Hunt is planning to kayak 2,300 miles around the UK in the hope of raising up to £50,000 for the charity that helped him cope with the trauma of losing his left leg.

Richard, 43, of Portchester, suffered a serious sporting injury at the age of 18.

The married father-of-two subsequently underwent 21 operations on his leg but surgeons were eventually forced to amputate, ending his navy career.

Now he is planning to give something back to the British Limbless Ex-Serviceman’s Association (BLESMA), which helped him through the ordeal.

Dubbed The Great Paddle Round, his solo attempt to kayak clockwise around the British Isles is due to start at Gosport in April.

Richard has received specialist training at Fareham Leisure Centre and aims to complete the voyage in less than six months, depending on the weather.

He is planning to use an expedition- grade “sit-on-top” kayak, which means he will be exposed to the elements.

If successful he will become the first person to circumnavigate the UK in that type of craft. He will also break the world record for the longest solo journey by kayak, set by Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton when she paddled 2,000 miles up the Amazon in 2010.

Richard said: “What I’m attempting has never been done by an amputee before.

“I’m as prepared and confident as I can be, but it’s a solo journey and there’s the mental effort of keeping going day after day.”

Richard said BLESMA boosted the confidence of amputees by encouraging them to take up sports.

He added: “Keeping active has really helped me both mentally and physically over the years, so I want to promote awareness and encourage other disabled people to do the same.

“When you lose a limb it’s very easy to sit back and let other people do things for you. You lose your get up and go.

“BLESMA helps you to do things for yourself and as well as setting yourself goals.”

After leaving the Navy Richard became a university lecturer before retiring to concentrate on his kayak challenge.

As part of his fundraising campaign Fareham Leisure Centre has organised a charity wheelchair laser tag tournament on January 18.

Centre members and non-members aged 16 or over are invited to set up a team.

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