Kayakers get busy paddling the Thames
'Get busy living' is the motto of military support charity, The 353 Trust. And this summer, four friends got busy paddling, taking on the River Thames in a 150 mile kayaking challenge for 353.
Miles Lewis, George Beard, Phil Brown and Liam Barrett set out from Gloucestershire where their journey took them through five English counties before reaching their final destination in London.
Initially hoping to raise £1,000 the friends have raised more than £2,000 and the donations continue to pour in.
In memory of Private Conrad Lewis
On 9 February 2011, Private Conrad Lewis became the 353rd British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.
Inspired by Conrad, the 353 charitable trust was born. The charity aims to help members of the military community and their families and to become a force for good worldwide through partnerships with other charities and organisations.
“Conrad was my cousin and we were very close,” explains Miles Lewis. “The really nice thing about this challenge was that it was my friends who completed the kayak with me who suggested 353, not me. So it was really good to know that whilst I had the personal connection they were really driven to raise money for the charity.”
A proud and testing challenge
Having completed a number of challenging fundraisers for 353 in the past, such as endurance races and the London to Paris cycle ride, Miles and his friends were ready to test themselves physically and mentally.
“We wanted to make it something difficult so people could really get behind the idea of sponsoring,” says Miles. “Kayaking is different to the normal running, cycling fundraisers and we all trained and practiced in something which we had previously only had recreational experience in doing.
“We passed some fantastic scenery which you would never get to see from the road or anywhere other than the river. Finishing was great though and we were lucky enough to be greeted by our family and friends - in the rain! - which brought home the significance of what we'd achieved.
He adds: “To have raised more than £2,000 is something we're all really proud of.”
Encouraging everyone to use BT MyDonate
Sandra Lewis, a trustee of The 353 Trust, mother to Conrad and aunt to Miles says: “We’re all delighted not just with the amount of money raised but the spirit with which they went about their challenge, so very true to the motto of 353 and Conrad’s memory, 'Get Busy Living'.”
She adds: “We try and encourage everyone to use BT My Donate as the method for collecting funds and the saving in commission fees makes a real difference to small charities like ours, it ensures that all those hard earned donations are passed to us so we can make every penny count.
“We work very hard to ensure that the money raised by 353 goes to fund specific, tangible projects. The trust itself has no overheads and the charities we support have minimal overheads - it is therefore highly appropriate and very helpful that our chosen fund raising platform supports those aims.”
In October 353 will launch a powerful diary covering Conrad’s time in Afghanistan. BT MyDonate will drive the fund raising on this latest venture with visitors able to nominate their favourite charity.