Stormy seas fail to stop kayaking firefighters

Kayaking firefighters on their fundraising paddle around Hayling Island   Picture: Mick Young
Kayaking firefighters on their fundraising paddle around Hayling Island Picture: Mick Young
  • Event has raised more than £20,000 for charity
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IT’S a 13-mile round trip taking in some of the most scenic views on the south coast.

But the inclement British weather made sure firefighters were in for a bumpy ride as they took on the round-the-island kayak journey.

A hardy team of more than 50 firefighters from stations across the area fought lashing rain and gusty winds to complete their tour around the coast of Hayling Island.

The event started in 2012 and goes from strength-to -strength every year.

It raises money for the RNLI, The Fire Fighters Charity, as well as local good causes chosen by the firefighters.

Mark Pannell, 48, who is a firefighter at Hayling and Southsea, is one of the organisers.

The route starts from the RNLI station at Sandy Point, Eastoke, and then goes along the seafront to the Inn on the Beach and into the mouth of Langstone Harbour.

Then the kayakers paddle north up the harbour, go under the Langstone Bridge and then back down Chichester Harbour to the finish line.

Mark said: ‘The first leg was very hard.

‘We set off from the lifeboat station and there was a flash storm coming through.

‘The wind got up to about a force six along Hayling seafront.

‘But everyone got to the Inn on The Beach safely.

‘We had a Mars bar and a break and then when we got to Langstone Harbour it was calm.

He added: ‘The sea was like a mirror – it was absolutely beautiful.’

The kayakers enjoyed a well-deserved barbecue when they got back to the lifeboat station.

First home were two local firefighters, Perry Dodgson and Thomas Davies.

Thomas said: ‘It was wonderful, a great ride round in a great boat.’

Coming third overall were Kim Flury and Ian Landymore, who were members of the public taking part in the event.

Kim said: ‘We practised hard and it paid off.

‘It was hard from the Ferry Boat up through Langstone Harbour as the following wind made steering difficult.’

The day is expected to raise between £3,000 and £4,000.

Over the past four years the event has raised more than £20,000.

The Fire Fighters’ Charity has two centres which help to rehabilitate injured firefighters.

Mark said that he wanted to thank Hayling Lions, the RNLI and Graham Reed, from Pinnacle Foods, for supporting the event.

He added: ‘It was great preparation for our Cockleshell Hero Frankton Paddle in September, when we paddle for three days up the Gironde Estuary in France and up to Bordeaux.’