Southsea boy paddles the Solent in tribute to his brave friend

MEMORIES of a beloved childhood friend who lost his battle with cancer inspired this brave schoolboy to tackle a gruelling charity challenge.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 5:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 3:36 pm
Jack Allman on his paddleboard
Jack Allman on his paddleboard

Jack Allman paddled five miles across the Solent to raise cash for Cancer Research UK and the Portsmouth & Southsea Voluntary Lifeguards.

And for the 17-year-old St John’s College pupil, it was a chance to remember his friend Jack Fleming who died August 2015 after a valiant struggle against cancer.

Jack, who has been a volunteer lifeguard in Southsea for two years and is part of the city’s RNLI team, said it was an emotional journey.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Jack Allman during the cross-Solent paddleboard

‘I will always remember Jack for his smile and how even when it was the darkest of moments he would still keep on smiling and brighten up my day,’ he said.

‘For all that he did for me, I only felt it right that I try give something back and try and help any other people in a situation like his.’

Jack, of Southsea, had been friends with Jack for a decade, growing up playing rugby together.

The paddle pushed his body to the limits and needed months of preparation before he was fit enough to take it on.

Jack Allman during the cross-Solent paddleboard

As well as tackling the choppy waters and strong swell of the Solent, Jack had to negotiate his way through the busy shipping traffic.

‘We had a close encounter with a ferry, but luckily I had my safety boat on hand in case anything were to go wrong,’ he added.

His challenge, which was completed on Sunday, has raised £1,200, which will be split between Jack’s two chosen charities.

Mum Elaine Allman, 55, said: ‘It was very emotional for everybody standing on the beach watching him and seeing just how hard he was working to cross the Solent.

‘I’m fantastically proud of him.

‘For a 17-year-old to go and do this off his own back is amazing.’

Jack said he is now keen to paddle the 22-mile Channel crossing but admitted ‘more vigorous training’ would be needed to tackle it.

To donate his Solent paddle, visit