Leicester De Montfort 500 Thames Challenge 10 Tablers, 2 Kayaks, 146 Miles, 42 Locks (The Life of a Wife)

One cold, murky, Friday lunchtime in the local Queen Vic, over a pint of lager and a steak and onion baguette, Simon declared that during his year as chair of Leicester De Montfort 500 Round Table (LDM500) he would like to “do something special”. His proposal was to raise a substantial amount of money for Rainbows, the regions hospice for children with life limited and life threatening conditions. But what could a group of approaching (if not already there) middle-aged, generally unfit gentlemen do?

So it was thinking caps on and a second pint later that discussion began. Simon’s biggest passion being football this was of course first on HIS agenda. “NO!” was my instant reply! Any wives, girlfriends or partners reading this will understand why when I point out that Simon has broken both his arms (one time during a Round Table Area 14 five-a-side tournament) and tore his Achilles tendon playing football!

Another lager later and a hiking challenge was mentioned, this didn’t even make it off the starting blocks as Simon like many Tablers I know doesn’t even walk to the corner shop!

“What about rowing?” I suggested thinking something along the lines of the Derby Merlin Rowing Regatta; four men in a boat having a bit of fun, flexing their muscles to impress the ladies.

“Ummmm…. was the reply, that might work, what about rowing the Thames, I wonder if that’s possible?”

Anything’s possible if you have an iPhone, a quick search on the World Wide Web and the challenge was set, to row the Thames from its source to the sea.

Several months later I found myself standing in a damp shed at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre checking out Kayaks. There were a few concerned looks around me on the faces of those Tablers who had ‘volunteered’ or been ‘roped in’ or maybe even ‘bribed’ into taking part in this challenge. Questions were brewing, mainly along the lines of

personal comfort like; “Where does the beer can go?”

“How do you row and drink at the same time?” and

“Will I spill my beer if I fall in?”

It’s a good job the important issues were out of the way because now the canoe instructor advised those present that everybody taking part should undertake their level one canoe certificate. Just a small formality of learning how to paddle and a health and safety issue of what happens when you capsize. This should be fun I thought to myself, I was the only person to leave that night with a smile on my face!

I was still smiling when several weeks later I decided to pop along to see how the canoe training was progressing. The hardest part it appears is getting into the boat, it’s a hard, soggy, lesson that putting all your weight on one side of the canoe to adjust your position doesn’t work!

Well my timing couldn’t have been better, just like many rivers in the World that are inhabited by water rats there is a potential to leave the banks of the River Soar with a dose of Weils disease. So picture our heroes faces when returning from a pleasant, leisurely paddle in their two-man kayaks the instructor declares that it’s time to practise rescuing each other. “Ok, who’s going in first?”

Ten minutes later the first pair was successfully back in their upright kayak, looking POSITIVELY PLEASED with themselves. “Ok, well done” encouraged the instructor “But the kids down river have just done it in two minutes and they managed to rescue BOTH oars as well!

Let’s do it again!”

“And again.”

“And again…..”

“And again……….”

Half an hour later with everyone nicely chilled and wet, matters became rather serious, it is very important when canoeing to learn what to do if all the boats capsize at the same time! So in they all went again for another dipping. Several minutes later they had managed to rescue each other and all the oars and were paddling back to the bank when it became apparent they maybe had forgotten something. That’s right one of their newest members Sam!

May saw Simon and I heading off to Blackpool for Round Table’s National Conference in order to promote the Thames challenge and hopefully raise a bit of sponsorship. Huge thanks go to Declan who happened to be walking around Blackpool wearing his Table t-shirt, without whom we may never have found the hotel. One advantage of being involved in Round Table is the opportunity to meet friendly, interesting people all of whom immediately understand what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re doing it! This goes some way in softening the embarrassment of walking around Blackpool dressed as a school netball team. That’s right Simon and I were both wearing skirts that night!

The Forge Inn at Glenfield was host to its annual live music festival ‘Glenstock’ later that month. Round Table supported this event by collecting donations at the entrance, all funds raised going to the Thames Challenge.

Simon was so keen to raise awareness that he could be seen chasing members of the public to furnish them with his promotional pin badges and INSISTED they wear them!

LDM500 and 41 Club have put a lot of time, effort and literally blood, sweat and maybe even a few tears into this challenge. My daughters and I haven’t seen much of Simon recently. He’s either at this meeting, or that meeting, or rowing, or at the gym trying to ‘get fit.’ I’m not sure if this is actually achievable, but Simon says he will be a changed man at the end of it. So please Simon if you could change into Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp that would be impressive.

Now for the important bit, sadly some children don’t live long enough. LDM500 over the weekend 8th – 10th July will be attempting to paddle 146 miles of the Thames River in two, two-man kayaks, from Cirencester to Teddington. That’s 42 locks, 78,000 paddle strokes and approximately 150 cans of beer. Their target is to raise £10,000 for a respiratory nurse at the Rainbows Children’s hospice. Children with breathing difficulties and their families are currently unable to access all the services at Rainbows and this would be an extremely valuable resource to enhance the remarkable service they already provide.

So, if you can spare a pound or two then please do something amazing by supporting this challenge, you can do this by visiting the website at: www.demontfort500.org.uk where you will be able to contribute through the ‘donate online button’.

Many thanks have to go to everyone involved in this challenge, anyone who has contributed their time, or money, in particular Bruce and his Angels, LDM500’s extended family, members of Ladies Circle and of course 41 Club. These sincere thanks come directly from the heart from Simon and I, handing over a cheque to Rainbows will make all the hard work, aching muscles, additional grey hairs and sleepless nights worth it.

Good luck gentlemen for 8th – 10th July.

Sue Riley

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: