Why I’m Kayaking the Thames from Criklade to Richmond

Richmond resident Joel Whittaker tells us why he’s taking to his kayak 40 hours of non-stop paddling in August… 

It should take 40 hours of non-stop paddling to get from Criklade, near the source of the River Thames, to Richmond by kayak. That’s just over 200 kilometers, it will be the longest journey I have ever attempted with my trusty kayak.

So why am I doing it? To raise awareness for a cause that is more urgent today than ever and to raise funds for a charity that does incredible work.

The cause is mental health, which is an issue that I increasingly see affecting us all. As a high-risk manager for a major broadcaster I see the challenges that my colleagues are dealing with.

Joel Whittaker is kayaking the Thames for Bravehound

Ex-Paratrooper Joel Whittaker is kayaking the Thames for Bravehound

As a veteran, I see the deep wounds that war and selfless service leave behind. But I also see others around me struggle with the day-to-day challenges of work, family and relationships.

No matter what our background, mental health will be a factor in all our lives at some point.

I believe there are some key tenants to sound mental health – exercise, routine, and love. Bravehound is a charitable organisation that offers all three by carefully placing dogs with veterans who are suffering with mental health issues.

The responsibility of caring for a dog can help them see past their own struggles, even if they don’t much feel like caring for themselves. It also offers much-needed routine and exercise, because dogs need both as much as we do.

As a former Paratrooper, I’m used to physical trials, but kayaking the length of the River Thames continuously for 40 hours is a challenge I suspect no one has tried before – for a reason.

So, this August, keep your eyes on the river and, if you see me lumbering past, give a wave. Or better yet, follow this link and give what you can to Bravehound.

Joel is hoping to raise £5,000 for Bravehound. To donate, visit Joel’s justgiving.com page. Just £5 could pay for training treats and toys for a puppy, while £10 could pay for a collar, and £15 could pay towards a check up at the vet. 



 

Like what you see?

Sign up to The Resident newsletter for even more news, views and things to do in London, delivered direct to your inbox once a week