Video: Mother-of-two tackles 75 miles of Norfolk’s rivers in inflatable dinghy

13:04 19 April 2014

Mandy Foyster touring the Norfolk Broads the ten-year-old inflatable boat that belonged to her sons. The trip raised money for the RSPB and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Photo: Nick Butcher

Mandy Foyster touring the Norfolk Broads the ten-year-old inflatable boat that belonged to her sons. The trip raised money for the RSPB and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Photo: Nick Butcher

She was at the helm of HMS Loopy and is no stranger to unconventional adventures.

Mother-of-two Mandy Foyster has looked fondly back on her tour of Norfolk’s rivers on a ten-year-old inflatable boat bought from a toy shop.

In order to raise money for wildlife charities, the 47-year-old tackled a 75-mile course, which she started on April 5 at Horstead Mill and finished at St George’s Bridge in Norwich.

Mrs Foyster, who said she felt “tremendously grateful” to have been able to complete the trip, came up with the idea after finding the boat she had bought for her two sons when they were children.

She used the trip to raise funds for the RSPB and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, in memory of her mother-in-law Doreen, who loved nature and enjoyed trips to Cley Marshes.

The clerical assistant from Horsham St Faith is no stranger to a charity challenge, having run 15 marathons and completed her own “tongue in cheek” triathlon cycling from John o’ Groats to Land’s End then travelling to London to run the marathon before swimming across her village pond dressed as a shark.

“I feel very fortunate to have my health and people have been very kind to me in life, so I feel I would like to give something back,” said Mrs Foyster.

“I enjoy nature, the outdoors and sport. It has developed because people have been interested in my challenges and keep asking me what my next one will be.”

But it has not been completely plain sailing for Mrs Foyster, who has had several punctures in her boat and woke up one morning to find it had partially deflated.

“There were two days when it was very cold and wet and that was tough,” she said.

“But each time I have had a problem I have managed to get through it and people have been very kind and helpful. Rowing across Breydon Water was one of the biggest challenges, and Mrs Foyster was grateful for the support of the Broads Authority.

With panniers strapped to the side of her boat and a makeshift awning for when it rained, Mrs Foyster renamed the vessel HMS Loopy. But although she knows it was a strange thing to do, she is glad she took to the water for her challenge. “I am very tired. It was a bit nerve-wracking and there were a few scary moments,” said Mrs Foyster. “Having said that, it was an amazing experience. Seeing all the wildlife was stunning. I have seen otters playing in the river next to me at night, oyster catchers, swans and marsh harriers. It’s been magical. I have seen Norfolk from a different viewpoint. It really is beautiful. We are so lucky to live here.”

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