Necton kayaker succeeds with 24-hour charity challenge

A kayak enthusiast has completed an exhausting 24-hour white-water challenge to support the cancer charity caring for his mother.

Richard Brooks, 31, from Necton near Swaffham, has already raised more than �2,400 for Big C by paddling non-stop through the cold and dark waters of Dartmoor National Park.

The challenge, which he completed at about 4pm yesterday, involved repeatedly paddling a 7km stretch of the Upper Dart river, including a series of steep rapids graded four on a difficulty scale which rates five the hardest.

With the help of his support team transporting the canoe back to the start of the route, he completed 20 circuits.

The charity was chosen to help Mr Brooks' 55-year-old mother Susan, of Sue's Canoes in Watton, who is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy.

Mr Brooks, who co-owns the business, said he was thrilled to have completed the challenge and broken his initial �2,000 fundraising target.

'It is a great sense of achievement,' he said. 'We've all asked around and we don't know of anyone who has paddled for so long on that grade of water, so it feels pretty good.

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'The fitness side of it was the most difficult – on that river, you know you cannot mess up and that was always in the back of my mind.

'You have got to know that every stroke is going to work – but there were a few times when the arms and wrists didn't want to work too well.'

The date of the attempt was chosen to coincide with a full moon which Mr Brooks hoped would help light up the course.

Unfortunately, the onset of overnight fog meant he had to abandon the most difficult top section of the river and use a head-torch for a few of the hours of darkness.

'The cloud was very, very low and the head-torch was only really reflecting the water droplets in the air,' he said.

After completing the challenge, Mr Brooks said he was proud to have raised so much cash for the Big C charity.

'They need as much as they can get, and they provide a great service which makes life slightly easier for people who are suffering,' he said.

Big C community fundraiser Magda Meredith said: 'What Richard is taking on is amazing. It's a fun and exciting way of raising money for the charity as well as extremely challenging. It never ceases to amaze us what people will do to raise money for such an important cause as Big C.'

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