ABP Team Spirit attempt Devizes to Westminster Challenge for Different Strokes Southampton

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A team of 10 ABP Southampton employees and friends are taking part in the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race this Easter, to raise crucial funds for local charity Different Strokes Southampton

Earlier this year ABP announced Different Strokes Southampton as its Charity of the Year for 2019.This is the first large fundraising event in the calendar of challenges planned by ABP employees this year, to support the local charity which offers support services to stroke survivors across Southampton.

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race has been held annually over the Easter weekend since 1948 and this year’s event will begin on Saturday 20 April. The teams will start the gruelling 125-mile course at Devizes Wharf, passing along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading (52 miles), before undertaking the next 55 mile stretch on the River Thames to Teddington.  Providing all goes well, they will then finish just downstream of Westminster Bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.

The gruelling 125-mile Devizes to Westminster paddle challenge involves paddling non-stop for over 30 hours day and night with only short breaks of a few minutes along the way. The race is so tough that depending on the weather every year, up to half the entrants who attempt the challenge do not complete the course. Throughout the event ABP Team Spirit will have to push their way through approximately 90,000 paddle strokes, so this will be a severe test of physical and mental strength and stamina that will push the team to their limits. 

The team will undertake the challenge in double kayaks made up of the following pairs:

Chris Thompson (Patrol Launch Coxswain) and Brian Butcher (VTS Operator), Andrew Coulson (Patrol Launch Marine Officer) and Stuart McIntyre (Regional Head of HR), Thea George (Safety Management Systems Manager) and Jim Ritchie (Pilot), Mike Savaria (Pilot) and Jason Losty (Pilot) and lastly Neil Kittow (Team Leader Mechanical) and his stepdaughter Bex Browning. 

Andrew Coulson Team leader and Patrol Launch Marine Officer

“This isn’t going to be an easy challenge and up until a year ago several of the team had never even been inside a kayak, but we are taking on this tough challenge for the greater good. We’re hoping that during the 30-hour plus journey to Westminster, the support we receive for the charity and the knowledge of the difference that the funds raised for the charity will make, will spur us on to keep paddling despite the odds.”

Alastair Welch Port Director at ABP Southampton

“This is the sixth year we’ve had a team from ABP Southampton take part in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race and I’m extremely proud of the commitment that goes into all the training and the event itself. I know everyone in the wider port team is right behind ABP Team Spirit and wishes them the very best for success in this year’s race.”

To sponsor ABP Team Spirit visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/ABPTEAMSPIRIT

You can find out more about Different Strokes Southampton by visiting their website.