The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race covers a total of 125 miles over the Easter weekend and keen kayaker Bethan is aiming to not only complete the event but come first in the women’s veterans (age 35+) category.
Wokingham-based Bethan, who is hoping to raise £1,000 for us, was inspired to take part in the race after her daughter Emily fell ill two years ago.
“She’d had a temperature for a couple of days but it wasn’t dissimilar to what she’d had before so we weren’t that worried,” said Bethan.
“She had a fever in the night and we were up a few times but when she woke in the morning she was still crying a lot and was quite unwell so we tried to give her some milk and Calpol to calm her down."
“It was at this stage that she started to fit”.
Bethan called an ambulance and baby Emily, who was only nine months old at the time, was taken to hospital.
“Lots of doctors descended on her and we were told that they were going to treat her for meningitis,” she added.
“She was put on antibiotics and within a couple of days it was confirmed that it was meningitis.”
Bethan said that the side effects of the treatment Emily received were quite severe, but that they were lucky and after two weeks in hospital she made a complete recovery.
“She’s two and a half years old now and everything’s normal.”
As for the kayaking challenge, Bethan said she had been a kayaker since she was 12 years old and was motivated to take part in the race after receiving phone counselling from Meningitis Now and gaining advice from our website.
“I liked reading all the stories on the site,” she said. “They were useful to read when I was processing what happened with Emily”.
She said she was training every day for the four-day challenge and racing at weekends to get fit and ready. She estimated she would be paddling for about six hours a day over the course of the race - which as a solo kayaker would be tough mentally as well as physically.
“I am excited and nervous at the same time,” she said. “It is going to be a real challenge but my poor old husband will be following me for support and my parents will be helping out by looking after Emily."
“It’s going to be a real family effort!”.
To support Bethan please visit her Just Giving page.