Paddle power is to help Jack

SIX Freemasons will take to their Canadian canoes and paddle for charity today.

Rob Mallett, Karl Hodgkinson, Nick Skillett, Angus Wilson, Stuart Ridd-Jones and Stuart McLester from the Wentworth Lodge Freemasons in Wellingborough will brave 61 miles of the River Nene to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mr Mallett’s 10-year-old son Jack is waiting for potentially life-changing brain surgery at the hospital in London.

Jack’s mother Helen, of Islip, said: “They’re going to canoe from Billing to Peterborough in the next three days.

“They’re going to go to different Freemason lodges along the way to try to collect money. Jack has seizures three or four times a day which cannot be controlled by medication.

“When he has them he lands on his head – it’s like somebody has up-ended him.

“He has knocked his teeth out and had bumps and bruises – we are well-known to our doctor and dentist.

“When he was nine months old we were told by doctors he would never walk or talk and that there was no hope for him.

“But he’s fine now and is otherwise a normal 10-year-old – he’s defied everybody.”

Jack is being lined up for a hemispherectomy at the children’s hospital, which involves effectively shutting down the damaged part of his brain.

The operation will give him a 75 to 80 per cent chance of being completely seizure-free.

The fundraising bid was dealt a cruel blow last week when some of the money raised by the canoeists was stolen. But the group are determined to overcome the setback for Jack, who is a pupil at Trinity Lower School in Aldwincle.

Mrs Mallett said: “One of the guys who is doing the challenge, Karl, was burgled the other night and they stole some of the charity money.

“They have been going to Zumba classes to get fit and people there have been donating money but it’s been stolen. They were targeting £5,000 which I think they have now reached but they want to raise as much as possible.”

To support the group’s efforts go to