Firefighters’ 20 mile kayak challenge to help kids stay safe in the sea

Justin Goodchild, from Bohemia Fire Station, Marc Wise from Battle, Stuart Holden from The Ridge, and Ashley Mepham from Bohemia, will be taking part in a 20 mile sponsored kayak. SUS-170419-170706001
Justin Goodchild, from Bohemia Fire Station, Marc Wise from Battle, Stuart Holden from The Ridge, and Ashley Mepham from Bohemia, will be taking part in a 20 mile sponsored kayak. SUS-170419-170706001

Four firefighters will take part in a 20 mile sponsored kayak later this month to raise money to help teach children vital beach safety skills.

Justin Goodchild, from Bohemia Fire Station, Marc Wise from Battle, Stuart Holden from The Ridge, and Ashley Mepham from Bohemia, will be paddling down the River Rother from Bodiam Castle to Camber Sands beach on Saturday April 29.

The intrepid team will set off at 4am and aim to reach Camber at around lunchtime.

The fundraiser coincides with the CFOA Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week (April 24-30).

Since July 2016, nine people have drowned in incidents in East Sussex - including seven people who lost their lives at Camber Sands.

Watch manager Justin Goodchild said: “We are very much involved in drowning prevention and water safety at the fire service.

“After what happened in Camber last year, we thought it would be a good idea to raise money for the youngsters over there to learn some water safety.”

A local volunteer from the Royal Life Saving Society UK is hoping to set up a Rookie Lifeguard Beach School at Camber Sands for children aged eight to 12 who learnt to swim in a pool but have limited experience of sea swimming.

Andrea Janes, water safety co-ordinator for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Everything in the pool is nice and warm and you have lifeguards but when you get to the beach it’s completely different.

“We do not want them to be scared of the water, but we want them to be aware of the dangers.”

The school will also teach it’s young students vital lifesaving skills.

The four men in a boat hope to raise at least £500 towards the new beach school.

Justin previously enjoyed a kayaking holiday in New Zealand some years ago, but admitted his skills may be a little rusty.

He said: “I have got two kayaks in the garage in the garage I have not got out for six years.

“I have not checked them for a while, so I hope they don’t have holes in them.”

He joked: “It seemed like a good idea at the time!”

To donate to the sponsored kayak, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ESFRS

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