Kayaker set to complete gruelling 322-mile fundraiser for Swindon charity and other causes

By Barrie Hudson - 9 September 2020

Charity

Military veteran Graham Stobbs, 48, aims to finish an epic solo kayak trip at South Cerney Outdoor Centre on Friday.

  • Graham has faced life-threatening storms during his journey

    Graham has faced life-threatening storms during his journey

He embarked on the 322-mile journey on 19 August, departing from Rye Harbour and beginning a voyage which took him along the south coast and was set to include a Channel crossing.

Quarantine restrictions saw the Channel crossing cancelled but Graham battled on against the odds, facing two named storms and increasingly dangerous weather as he travelled along the coast.

Graham’s determination to complete the challenge is born of his desire to raise money for his own charity, The Veterans Hub Swindon, together with Walking with the Wounded and The Veterans Hub Weymouth, three charities dedicated to supporting the continued wellbeing of veterans. 

He said: “The trip along the south coast was one of the most frightening and dangerous things I’ve ever done.  

"I have a newfound respect for the sea, and the challenge has pushed the boundaries of my mental wellbeing, endurance and physical capability.  

"Mental health and PTSD is a real challenge for veterans that commonly goes unrecognised for many years after service, and the funds are desperately needed, so I’m determined to do my bit to help those who have given so much for their country.  

"I had to take expert advice to finish the trip inland on the lake but I’m determined to reach the full 322 miles before the week is out.”

Graham added “This is also part of my own healing process and I hope to encourage others to reach out about their own difficulties and seek help like I did. I want to show there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Graham is a passionate supporter of the charities, having suffered with his own mental health problems, and is taking on this challenge to help break the stigma around mental health and encourage veterans to open up, talk and ask for help.  

As part of his own treatment, Graham is undergoing intense EMDR therapy with Cormac Doyle MBE of The Bridge Charity.  

A combination of bad weather and pandemic restrictions saw Graham’s plans change daily, and bad weather saw him risk his life on several occasions.He documented his emotional experience in a series of Facebook Live broadcasts. 

At the end of August, after a series of delays and 190 gruelling miles, Graham laid a wreath at Slapton Beach Memorial before he and his safety advisors made the decision to complete the challenge on the lake at South Cerney Outdoor Centre.  

The final 132 miles are being completed this week, with the challenge concluding on Friday, 11 September.

Graham is paddling in an 18ft P&H Scorpio Sea Kayak.  

This is not the only way in which Graham supports veterans' causes - he is also founder of Swindon’s Mfor Festival, a family fun day and music festival which supports veterans and military and mental health charities, including The Veterans Hub.

His JustGiving page is https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/221-mile-kayak

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