Thursday, April 16, 2009

Three men in a boat (or is that canoe?)

100-mile charity effort in aid of motor neurone disease

Three men in a boat plan to paddle more than 100 miles for charity despite the fact that none of them have any experience on the water.

Friends Cliff Elbourne, 42, Rob Hammond, 33 and Dave Simm, 26, plan to set off in a tiny Canadian canoe from Buckingham on April 25 and follow the River Great Ouse down through Bedfordshire, across The Fens and out into the North Sea through The Wash in Norfolk.

None of the men have ever stepped into a canoe before, but are willing to rough the choppy spring waters in order to raise £5,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND).

Mr Elbourne, landlord of Ye Three Fishes pub in Turvey, said: "We have no previous experience in a canoe, but we are spending the month before we set off practicing.

"It's still quite daunting, but we can all swim and we have life jackets."

The trio chose to raise money for the MND Association after their friend Colin Knight was diagnosed with the condition a few years ago.

Mr Elbourne added: "I have a very good friend in the village who has Motor Neurone Disease and it has really been brought to my attention.

"Two or three years ago before it happened to him I would not have known anything about Motor Neurone Disease so this is about raising money and awareness too.

"We are aiming for £5,000, as that would buy two stairlifts for somebody. The hardest thing is sufferers are still the same mentally but they lose mobility, which when you are used to doing something is really hard.

"This will be a task for us, but because we are physically able, we should give it a go."

The trio plan to complete the adventure in five to six days, stopping off at Ye Three Fishes on April 25 for a fundraising bon voyage party.

As well as the hog roast, live music and a raffle, the pub has organised a charity auction with lots including goodie bags from record label EMI, signed Radio 1 merchandise and Bodyflight experiences.

The canoe will also be auctioned off after the fundraising adventure is complete.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the trio can do so by visiting

Facts about MND:

1) MND is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones and weakens the muscles.

2) It can affect the use of your arms, legs, speech and respiratory system as bodily functions disintegrate, with the nerve cells being destroyed.

3) Approximately three people a day die of MND in the UK.

4) Approximately 5,000 individuals in the UK live with MND.

5) Approximately three people in the UK are diagnosed with MND every day.

By Paul Fisher