Two Brighton based former Royal Marines planning to kayak around the Falkland Islands in 2016 for charity will face their first major challenge this weekend at they compete in the grueling Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race.
Starting early Saturday morning, this 125 mile, 77 portage race will see Mick Dawson and Steve Grenham kayak from Devizes, finishing opposite the Houses of Parliament in central London, on Sunday evening.
Mick and Steve will be competing in the race in a WWII Klepper style kayak. This is a nod to the Royal Marines who died during Operation Frankton in World War Two, later immortalised in the film Cockleshell Heroes.
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race is the first in a series of five kayak challenges, each increasing in difficulty, that are designed to prepare the Cockleshell Endeavour duo for their circumnavigation of the 650 miles of unforgiving coastline of the Falkland Islands in early 2016. This challenge is set to take about 30 days, will see the Falkland veterans tackle freezing conditions, wildlife including sharks and whales, and unexploded mines left over from the conflict.
The four other kayaking challenges are The Caledonian Canal, The Yukon River Quest in June of 2015, a circumnavigation of The Isle of Mann and then a circumnavigation of Ireland.
The Cockleshell Endeavour is not just designed to test the pair physically. Mick and Steve will be using the next 18 months to highlight and explore the issues of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Steve Grenham has been fighting a long battle with the condition and has struggled to find an effective treatment. It is hoped that the Cockleshell Endeavour will create a structure and purpose that will help him on the road to recovery as he meets the incredible demands of this challenge, whilst also putting a spotlight on the hugely relevant subject of PTSD as a whole in the service community.
The Cockleshell Endeavour will also be raising funds Care After Combat, a new charity set up to support service leavers and their families. Mick Dawson has twice rowed the Atlantic Ocean and, five years ago, was one half of the only crew to have ever successfully rowed the Pacific Ocean. He says:
“The Devizes to Westminster is a great event to be competing in and will put all the kayaking skills we have gained over the past five months to the test. We will be competing against experienced canoeists and kayakers in so it will really challenge us and push us to our limits. “We have less than a year until we kayak around the Falkland Islands so competing in events such as the Devizes to Westminster are essential if we are to be fully prepared for the challenges facing us in the South Atlantic.”