Canal challenge sunk

Wiltshire Times: Toby Page, Iolo Lavender and Ted Powles planned to cruise from Reading to Bath in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance but a series of setbacks caused the challenge to be called off Toby Page, Iolo Lavender and Ted Powles planned to cruise from Reading to Bath in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance but a series of setbacks caused the challenge to be called off

Three men from Bradford on Avon were faced with a series of setbacks that eventually halted their challenge to cruise from Reading to Bath in a powered canoe to raise money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Toby Page, 45, Iolo Lavender, 27, and Ted Powles, 35, intended to go along the Kennet and Avon canal last Friday morning in a Canadian canoe, keeping their seagull engine running for 24 hours while they navigated the locks.

The evening before, Mr Lavender pulled out with a shoulder injury; then, shortly after setting off, the team realised they would be unable to keep the engine running for 24 hours – and 13 hours into the challenge, at 3am at Crofton Lock, near Marlborough, they suffered an engine failure and were forced to pull out.

Mr Powles said: “That’s what makes it a good adventure, having lots of things to overcome.”

Mr Lavender’s recurring shoulder injury happened while he was lifting the engine into the support vehicle and an emergency crew member was called in while Mr Page watched from the support vehicle.

The team eventually set off from Reading but soon realised that the weight of the engine – combined with the bucket of water which it was submerged in to keep it running as they navigated the locks, would be too much for the canoe’s bracket.

They were forced to abandon the idea of keeping the engine running for 24 hours and had to stop and start it every time they drew the canoe out of the water to go round the locks.

“It was a shame because that was the object of our adventure,” said Mr Powles.

Then, just as they reached Crofton Lock, the coil failed so there was no spark for the engine and the team did not have a spare part.

They called the support vehicle, which met them at the next lock before taking them back to Bradford on Avon.

“There is plenty of fundraising to do, but we hope to have another crack at it in May. We have made a benchmark now.

“We have learnt a lot from this adventure. There were a lot of things we found we didn’t need and we now know it can take under 24 hours.”

The trio have raised £190 so far and anyone wishing to donate can log on to www.justgiving.com/ iolo-lavender.

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