A GROUP of young canoeists from a Rocester school are gearing up for an Easter weekend challenge to raise money for two worthy causes.
Three teams from Abbotsholme School will endure the annual Devizes to Westminster (DW) endurance marathon from April 18 to 20.
Barney Wilson, 15, Ed Pashley, 16, Harriet Chiles, 17, Charlotte Thornewill, 18, Ollie Chappell, 16, and his dad, Gavin, will set sail on Good Friday.
The 125-mile race starts in Devizes and finishes under Westminster Bridge on Easter Monday.
The explorers will negotiate 70 locks and weirs, where the boats must be taken out of the water and carried, adding to the ‘immense physical challenge’ of the event.
During the first two days, the teams must paddle for 10 hours to cover 36 miles in order to be allowed to continue.
And the challenge will be even tougher as the Abbotsholme teams are using open Canadian canoes, which are slower and heavier than traditional canoes.
An Abbotsholme spokesman said: “Having trained very hard, the pupils are confident that they will succeed in this challenge.
“It’s an event which has defeated many entrants in the past so, hopefully, the true Abbotsholme spirit to show physical determination and strength of mind will enable them all to complete the race and who knows, possibly even break a school record.”
“The school’s entered teams before but rarely has there been a ‘girls only’ crew so Harrie and Charlie are determined to complete the challenge and Barney and Ed are hoping to beat Barney’s brother’s previous DW challenge time and set a new school record.”
The crews will camp out each night, with rules stating they must erect their own tent and cater for themselves whilst in the camp.
The canoeists will be joined by coach and History teacher Tony Wilson and sports teacher Sam Ritchie, who are challenging themselves to finishing the 125 miles without stopping - a challenge even Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave could not complete.
Pupils will use the event to gain sponsorship to be donated to MacMillan Nurses and Leukaemia Research.
Anyone who wants to donate can do so online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/AbbotsholmeDW2014.