Portsmouth disabled fundraiser embarks on English Channel challenge

Paul Smith from Cosham
Paul Smith from Cosham

A TIRELESS disabled fundraiser who has amassed an incredible £2m for good causes is set to take on his biggest challenge yet.

Paul Smith, 59, of Cosham, was left disabled after a crash in 1991. But ever since that fateful day he has refused to let it hold him back with him pushing himself to the extreme on many occasions.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

These have included wheeling himself from Plymouth to the Emirates Stadium via Portsmouth, skydiving from a plane and climbing the Rock of Gibraltar – where he was struck by a car during preparations.

But Paul's latest mission to row the English Channel solo from Dover to Calais ranks as his most ambitious – and dangerous. The fearless campaigner is raising funds for Breast Cancer Haven in memory of his friend Marjorie Walker, former chair of Portsmouth Breast Friends who died last year.

Paul has raised about £2.3m for numerous causes through gruelling wheelchair pushes and climbs resulting in him being awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2016 at Windsor Castle.

Despite suffering a head injury from a car accident in 1991 and then a 12-year period of locked-in syndrome – leaving him in a wheelchair and needing support to carry out basic activities – he admits his latest challenge will be his toughest yet.

Paul said: ‘This will be my last physical challenge but I wanted to do it for Marjorie. It will be tough – there will be 12ft waves and it will probably take me around five hours.

‘I’ve only done 15 hours training for it since I started in June so hopefully i’ll be able to do it. I’ve had great coaching though from former British rower Emma Geuterbock and Mike Gilbert.’

Speaking of his friend Marjorie, he said: ‘She was an inspirational person and someone I really admired. She was someone who helped a lot of other people with cancer and raised a lot of money.

‘I hope to raise £250,00 to continue the work she started and continue helping other people along the way. There are too many people that die of breast cancer and  many others who are in remission.

‘It is a horrible disease to deal with and affects people in many ways.’

Paul said he is delighted after receiving sponsorship from interested parties – including Ideal Window Solutions – but says he hopes to get more backing to pay for the remainder of his training and a safety boat for the trip across the Channel.

To donate go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ChallengetheChannel