FOUR young paddlers took on an epic 125 mile canoe race in aid of a Hampshire activity centre which provides opportunities for people with additional needs.

Helen Penny, Willow Richards, Harold Berendsen and Luke Fraser, from Sparsholt and Barton Peveril Colleges, took part in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.

They raised £2,000 for QE2 Activity Centre at River Hamble Country Park.

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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 Devizes to Westminster Canoe race, an opportunity we just couldn’t turn down, last June.

"After a few unintentional swims, we started to get the hang of paddling marathon kayaks.

“Harold’s Dad and my Mum had both done the DW in the past and at the beginning our biggest motivation was to try and beat their times. But then we decided we wanted to raise money for QE2 Activity Centre.

“Last year with college we were lucky enough to go and help them put up some fencing for a new low ropes course. Seeing first-hand what this charity does, we know that every penny we raised will go a long away to help change lives through outdoor activities.

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Harold added: “Taking part in the Devizes to Westminster has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It has been tough, very tough but worth all the hard work and commitment. Coming across the finishing line and hearing our family and friends shouting and cheering and knowing that we had done it is something we will never forget.

“We all feel very proud that we have all 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 Centre manager Phil Oates said “A massive thank you to the paddlers, their coaches, parents, support crews and everybody that donated.”



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