Injured soldier to take part in Devizes to Westminster

Danny Spender and Barry Welch, who will take part in the Devizes to Westminster canoe challenge in aid of the Care for Casualties charity, have been doing 34-mile training sessions in preparation

Danny Spender and Barry Welch, who will take part in the Devizes to Westminster canoe challenge in aid of the Care for Casualties charity, have been doing 34-mile training sessions in preparation

First published in Wiltshire
Last updated

A REMARKABLE soldier, who lost both legs above the knee in an explosion in Afghanistan, will take on the epic Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon challenge at the end of March.

Colour Sergeant Danny Spender, 31, was injured by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province in August 2011.

The former Kingdown student – who is in his 15th year of service with the 1st Battalion the Rifles, based in Chepstow – decided to take on the marathon to raise money for regimental charity Care for Casualties.

Sgt Spender, who lives in Chepstow with wife Laura and children Toby, nine, Olly, seven, and Isabelle, two, is taking on the challenge with colleague Sgt Barry Welch and is aiming to raise £30,000, which is the cost of two prosthetic legs.

He said: “We thought it would be good to raise money for Care for Casualties, as they have helped me and my family a lot.

“The regimental charity has assisted me in many ways and I just wanted to give something back to help somebody who may be in my position in the future, which inevitably will happen. We started training before Christmas and we usually get out on the water every weekend and once or twice a week. It’s been going well and, in a normal session, we usually do 34 miles.”

“The main difficulty will be the 77 portages and locks along the route, as we have to climb out of the water and carry the boat around each obstacle, before getting back into the water again. We’re aiming to finish in 35 hours.”

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon, from March 29 to April 1, is one of the world’s most demanding open-to-all endurance events.

It involves travelling 125 miles by kayak or canoe along the Kennet and Avon Canal to the River Thames and down to Westminster.

His father, Chris Spender, of Shelley Way, Warminster, said: “My first thought when he told me he was doing it was that he is absolutely nuts, as it is one of the hardest challenges around.

“My main concern is how he will get around the portages, but I am immensely proud of him for taking it on.

“I don’t think many people know what incredible work the regimental charity does and Danny just wants to give something back before he is medically discharged from the Army in June.”

Care for Casualties gives support and inspiration to the severely wounded and their families. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/ Daniel-Spender or text donation number RIFL99 to 70070.

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