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Devizes to Westminster in a Canoe

Four of our Year 12 students achieved a remarkable feat over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend; canoeing over a hundred miles in one long weekend. I had the pleasure to speak to them about their remarkable achievements.

Having been woken up by the glaring beam of floodlights at the tender hour of three o’clock in the morning, our quartet of Year 12 students - forming a pair of duos, Sam and Ranveer with the two Lizzies - were almost at the end of a gruelling four long days of canoeing. But there was still more to come. While most people had been putting their feet up enjoying an extended, warm, four day Easter weekend, our stoic students had been traversing their way through a brutal one hundred and twenty five mile course that pushed them right to the limit.

“The hardest moments were always the last five miles on each day.”

One could start to understand just how tough this challenge was when learning that Sir Steve Redgrave, yes the Sir Steve Redgrave, was forced to pull out halfway through, injured. Starting at the small market town of Devizes in Wiltshire in the early hours of Friday, seventy-seven intrepid young people had the daunting task of canoeing to Newbury and then to Marlow and then to Teddington before finishing in central London. By Monday morning they were only two final hours away from completing the challenge. 

“That part of the river is tidal so we had to start early on the Monday.”

Lizzie told me, as I could only just comprehend how grumpy I would have been by that point. The extensive training they had undergone since joining the project in September of 2017, had certainly payed off. Not an overzealous swan called ‘Sid’ nor the searingly hot weather could stop our Waingels teams. Setting off at six o’clock in the morning and finishing the course in the venerable Westminster, our undaunted teams managed to fight on for just over two hours more before the glamorous finish in Central London.

“The biggest emotion at the end was relief to be honest, It was kind of surreal having finished, to know that it was all over”.

Raising over a £1000 at such events can surely only add to the satisfaction of such an amazing feat. I asked whether they would consider doing it again,

“not for now. In the future, perhaps”.

One could hardly begrudge them putting their feet up next Easter weekend. On behalf of the whole school, I would like to congratulate Sam, Ranveer, Lizzie D and Lizzie J on completing the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon 2019!






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