Justin Miles wants it!
Justin is the Brains behind this little challenge and he is the speaker, trainer and adventurer in the recipe. The other ingredients include Becky (Kayak) Paul (Paddleboard) Mo (Paddleboard) Ed ('lie-on-his-face' Paddleboard) and Community upon Thames... Vikie Shanks heads up the best support crew anyone could ask for consisting of a great group of kids, some with problems of their own. 2 of the support crew have Cerebral Palsy and 4 are Autistic (Why should that stop 'em? Answer... it doesn't) and then there's me, Steve (Guy in boots with first aid kit)
Some of us are there from the start, some others may pop up from time to time to say hi! Then there's possibly over 100 people joining the fun in London for the grand finale.
So where's the water then? This is a coast to coast trip, or to be more precise, Channel to Channel. This land of ours is criss crossed by inland waterways, rainfall dribbling down the hills, finding the bottom of a valley and making it's way to the lowest point possible, in this case, the Sea. To the West of us we have the Great England/South Wales divide that is the Bristol Channel, fed by the Rivers Severn, Wye, and the Avon to name just a few.
Home, or not quite, as this may be where I live, but we're all still heading East. When we head out of Reading, the canal goes under a railway line and then the guys in the water will need to turn right, as the Kennet and Avon becomes The River Thames. (I bet you can guess where this is leading!) The next town to tick off will be Henley-on-Thames, then Bourne End. It's now we take a turn South for a while as we head to Windsor. Eton, and Dorny (where people will still be clearing up after the Olympic rowers), then (I don't believe I'm saying this) Staines-Upon-Thames (Aye!). There's lots of South, then North, with a bit of South and even a very small bit of West, but the river generally is heading East past Sunbury, around Hampton Court Park to Teddington. Technically, it's Teddington where the journey should end, as it's here that the Thames becomes tidal, and therefore, technically the coast. So, through London-on-Sea, we pass Richmond, West Kensington and Chelsea. Anyone smell The English Channel yet? By now, the dozen intrepid adventurers have increased in number to around 100+ and that's an awfully large amount of British Sparkling we need to find to celebrate with.
Why, I hear you ask, are we all doing this in the first place?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
Justin had a bit of an accident when he was 26, actually it was more than a bit of one, it almost cost him his life. He suffered serious brain injuries which left him having to learn basic functions from walking to talking all over again virtually from scratch. The ensuing battle to re-learn how to make his body and mind work again taught him lessons that he will never forget.
I suffered a serious injury too, also my brain. A severe blow to the front of my head fractured my skull, my left eye almost popping out, compression of the brain and a broken neck. I was lying on my back in hospital for so long I knew the ceiling like it was my best friend. It was not until I left hospital that I started to get frustrated. Physically (apart from the lump on my head that I still have) I looked OK, but I was far from OK. I had to re learn numbers, was house number 10 next to 11 or 12? Did £1 plus £2 equal £3 or was it £12.
Frustration hit us both, hard!
Now imagine taking all that frustration, all that damage and stress. Now rather than hit an adult with it, place it in the body and soul of a child. A child with a brain injury.
In 1985 they started the UK's first ever paediatric brain injury rehabilitation service and have since developed an international reputation for excellence. The Trust runs the UK's largest paediatric residential rehabilitation centre, in a state-of-the-art building opened by Richard Hammond. Their Brain Injury Hub (www.braininjuryhub.co.uk) is a dedicated website providing information and support to parents and other family members of children with acquired brain injury, drawing on the expertise of their clinical team. The services and support offered by the Children’s Trust play an essential role in helping children with aquired brain injuries and their families enjoy a good quality of life. Being a charity, the Children’s Trust need financial support for them to continue their work, just as important, the plight of children with brain injuries needs more exposure to the public at large to take away the stigma attached.
Please be another friend of Billy, go to http://www.justgiving.com/channel2channel and give whatever you can. Failing that, why not join us on August the 12th in Bristol, try and keep up and you should be in The Big City on the 19th.