Corby Food Bank fundraisers brave nettles, torrential rain and angry swans and 'claim world record'

The friends from Ashley used home-made canoes to paddle from the village to Stamford

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 4:32 pm

A three-day adventure to navigate the River Welland in home-made canoes ended successfully with the paddlers completing the epic 25-mile journey in a total of 24 hours and raising £1,670 for charity.

Giles Darby and Jon Wells waded, dragged, capsized and even paddled their canoes along the watercourse from their village of Ashley to Stamford in a trek of a lifetime.

The paddling pals, regulars at The George pub in Ashley, had hatched the idea to celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions and raise much-needed funds for Corby Food Bank.

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Jon and Giles on their travels

Over the three-day challenge the pair had to manoeuvre their canoes over dozens of fallen trees, down weirs and up and down river banks to avoid pairs of protective nesting swans.

Jon, 48, said: "The first day from Ashley to Gretton Weir was brutal. We had to pull the boats and I face planted into nettles. I was absolutely spent. I couldn't sleep because of the nettle stings and grazes.

"The second day from Gretton to Collyweston was almost pleasurable. The weather was lovely so for the third day we thought we would have an easy day and we had an extra hour in bed.

"The weather had changed and it was tree after tree and it was a real damp squib."

The canoes at the meadow in Stamford

Unable to use their bespoke beer pump in the boat to keep the boats as light as possible, Giles and Jon and their families celebrated reaching Stamford with a glass of champagne.

The pair were supported on their journey by Kettering canoe guru Dick Whitehouse who advised the pair to negotiate various obstacles in shallow and often impassable waters. The river is not maintained as a navigable waterway in Northamptonshire.

Jon said: "We believe we've set a world record doing the journey in 24 hours. It is easily the most difficult thing I have ever done. I was so cold afterwards that I was wearing three coats."

So far the pair have raised £1,670 for Corby Food Bank, smashing their original target by more than £1,000.

Giles and Jon reached Stamford after three days

Buoyed by their success the can-do canoeists may soon venture on another fundraising voyage.

Jon added: "We need to get back on the right sides of our beloveds, but we are investigating other opportunities."

To support Corby Food Bank by donating to Jon and Giles' fundraiser, click here.