Splash out for meningitis

11th July 2018

Clevedon Canoe Club (CCC) set themselves a challenge to do a sponsored 12-hour paddle and raise £2,000 towards our work. One of the organisers, Annette Colbourne, tells us how the day went

Clevedon Canoe

“Organisers and volunteers were on Clevedon seafront bright and early to start setting up tables and gazebos, Ergo paddling machines - reading the ever-important instructions - and most essential of all, replacing the dead batteries!"

“Orange Meningitis Now t-shirts were donned and gazebos decorated with branded balloons and banners. A course of orange buoys was set up on the Marine Lake and volunteers were at the ready to record and log every lap paddled."

“The Bank Holiday Saturday started badly with heavy rain in the morning and weather reports threatening thunder and lightning in the evening. Despite the rain and wearing our sunshine orange t-shirts, Steve Lawes led the way around the course at 9am accompanied by other club paddlers."

Venturing out cautiously

“Members of the public were invited to join us paddling on the Lake for a donation to Meningitis Now and when the sun finally showed itself in the afternoon, things picked up and we were relieved to see people venturing out cautiously."

“The Clevedon Coastguard came along to give instruction on how to throw a line to rescue a swimmer in difficulty. The swimmer in this case was a life size dummy, rather than an actual human. The children in particular went straight from paddling to have a go with a throw line and learnt several new skills that day."

“The cake stall was a huge success and people were delighted to find their favourite cakes for sale. There were prizes for the best themed cakes and the best bake. The chocolate brownies and sticky gingerbread were the first to sell out and this stall raised a substantial amount of money."

Lots of family rivalry

“For anyone not wanting to risk getting wet on the Lake, we had Ergo paddling machines on land. Ergo machines record the number of metres you can paddle in one minute and there was lots of rivalry as family members challenged each other to test who could paddle the furthest distance."

“A more relaxing challenge appealed to the youngest members of the family, guessing the number of ball pit balls contained in a kayak. The winner guessed 486 with the actual number being 496."

“All ages enjoyed the day and took on the challenge of paddling laps for Meningitis Now. CCC’s volunteers kitted out the public in correctly fitting buoyancy aids and helmets and our qualified coaches were on the Lake to give instruction and encourage new paddlers around the course on the Lake. Some people had so much fun they plan to come back and join in with Club paddles on the Lake in the future."

Respect for Meningitis Now

“Equally, we encountered a lot of respect for Meningitis Now and people gave willingly to this charity. We met individuals that had family members who had suffered with meningitis and they wanted to paddle on their behalf in support of the charity. When we gave out signs and symptoms cards for meningitis and septicaemia, they were received appreciatively by grandparents, parents and teenagers alike."

“As the sun was setting over the Marine Lake and the final whistle blew at 9pm, club members and members of the public had paddled 645 laps of the Lake. This equates to a total distance of 327.5 kilometers or 203 miles paddled. Following the South West Coast from Clevedon Marine Lake for 203 miles we would have reached Sennen Cove, just short of Land’s End! If only the sun had come out sooner!"

“To date Clevedon Canoe Club has raised £1,059.96 thanks to our sponsored paddle and other money-raising efforts. We are still receiving monies from sponsorship and we will continue to advertise our JustGiving page to achieve our target of £2,000 for Meningitis Now.”

More poorly than I had ever seen her

One of those who took part was Sarah Webster, who had a very personal reason for joining in. She said, “Just before my beautiful daughter turned four, she went down with meningitis. It started as a perfectly ordinary childhood infection, but during the day she got rapidly worse, so that by bedtime she was more poorly than I had ever seen her."

“It was when I sat her on my knee that I realised her neck was retracted and I checked the diagrams on a tiny signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia card we had stuck on the fridge, showing that this was a symptom of meningitis. I rushed her to Southmead hospital and she was admitted straight away."

“Thanks to that little card I had acted quickly enough for the doctors and nurses at Southmead to be able to save her life. Holly lost the hearing in one ear, but we were awfully lucky that it was not worse.  I vowed that I would do something to pay back the favour that the little card had done for us."

“The sponsored paddle also had another meaning for me, as I did it when I was recovering from an accident where I had been knocked off my bike, sustaining a broken ankle and torn ligament in my knee. As I sat in the road in pain, my first thought had been, "what if I can't kayak again?". My knee brace finally came off the day before Clevedon Canoe Club’s sponsored paddle, and so this was my first test of whether I could paddle again.  I managed 20 laps - yay!”

Thanks Annette and everyone who splashed out on the day - we really appreciate your support.

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