A Royal Navy veteran amputee from Hampshire is hoping to break the solo kayaking distance record by paddling around the entire coast of the UK.
Richard Hunt had his left leg amputated above the knee after 20 unsuccessful operations following an accident while playing rugby.
The 43-year-old, from Fareham is now hoping to achieve a personal goal as well as raise funds and awareness for Blesma – The Limbless Veterans charity formally known as the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association.
Today, Mr Hunt was due to begin his challenge at 5am from Gosport and he anticipates it will take 100 days of paddling plus rest days.
Richard Huint in action at sea. Image courtesy of Ottobock.
Following 13 months of training, he hopes to travel a distance of approximately 2,300 miles using a sit-on-top kayak, which would break the current record for the longest solo kayak journey held by Helen Skelton on the Amazon river for Comic Relief.
Speaking at Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – which was Mr Hunt’s final naval posting before he was medically discharged from the service – the father-of-two said that he was not daunted by the challenge.
He said: “I have not been scared at all, I have just been excited to get going. I know it’s going to be difficult, I know it’s going to be painful and at times it’s going to be dangerous, but I am not scared. I feel I am fully prepared.
Richard Hunt with his prosthetic leg. Image courtesy of Ottobock.
“My motivation for doing this challenge is that it’s always important in life to have goals, it could be if you’re disabled to get out and get yourself to the shops or maybe to the gym or something like my goal.
“I feel I need this kind of thing to keep me occupied, there’s a lot of enjoyment and to do it for Blesma is brilliant because they have helped me so much.
“I would like everybody to know who Blesma are and what they do, they have been around for 100 years and they do amazing work.’’ For training and everyday use, he uses a hi-tech C-Leg, which has a computerised knee that allows him to box, cycle and lift weights in the gym.
Richard Hunt at HMS Victory. Image courtesy of Ottobock.
Mr Hunt joined the Royal Navy as an able seaman in radar operation at the age of 17 but sustained a knee injury playing rugby. Surgery on the knee caused nerve damage and he was left in constant pain and discomfort.
Following 20 further unsuccessful operations to correct the damage, he made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated above the knee in 1995.
A Blesma spokesman said: ‘’Richard struggled to come to terms with the loss of his limb and sought help from Blesma. The charity helped him rediscover his passion for physical activity, becoming a fan of watersports, including kayaking.’’ After leaving the Navy, Mr Hunt took a job teaching business and IT in Zhuhai, southern China, where he met his wife, Xiao Yan Wen, and they have a daughter, Ya Xian, who is 17 and son Ying Ming, eight.
They moved back to the UK in 2007.