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Guest blog: ‘It’s a severe test of skill and physical and mental stamina’ just like MS

Chris Bishop, aged 58, from Henley-on-Thames reveals why he’s taking on the cold waters of the River Thames this Easter…

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Image credit: Henley Herald

My team mate Paul Reynolds and I decided to compete in this year’s Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race to raise awareness and funds for two charities, one of which is MS-UK. We are team Forget Me Not! We both have friends and family living with multiple sclerosis (MS), so we have seen first-hand the challenges it can bring to someone’s life and that is why we decided to set our very own challenge. We will be paddling 125 miles in a Canadian Canoe or C2, while portaging 77 times over the Easter weekend, from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster Bridge in London. It seemed like the perfect challenge to help us raise money for and awareness of MS.

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race has been held annually over the Easter weekend since 1948 and this year is its 70th anniversary.

The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, followed by 55 miles along the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning, with the unpredictable British weather adding a further challenge.

We’ve been doing lots of training and I will say that rolling an open C2 into the freezing River Thames as part of our capsize drill, when you’re nice and warm wearing your multiple layers, does take your breath away!

Our target is to raise £10,000, so if you would like to donate to our efforts please visit our Team Forget me Not for MS-UK fundraising page.