Warminster amputee's canoe race vow

Wiltshire Times: Danny Spender and Barry Welch on their way from Devizes to Westminster, by waterway Danny Spender and Barry Welch on their way from Devizes to Westminster, by waterway

Amputee and Colour Sergeant Danny Spender has vowed to take on the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race again next year, after withdrawing on Sunday following an eventful race.

The former Kingdown School student, who lost both legs above the knee in an explosion in Afghanistan in August 2011, started the epic 125-mile endurance event at 7am on Saturday with colleague Sgt Barry Welch.

However, in the worst conditions to ever hit the race, the pair passed through Newbury 12 minutes over the allotted 10 hours and were disqualified, although they were allowed to carry on and finish the distance.

After stopping at Reading for two hours, they set off again at 4am, before making the decision to pull out of the race just short of the 69-mile point in Marlow - having completed 59 of the 77 portages.

Sgt Spender, 31, who lives in Chepstow with wife Laura and their three children, said: “I was absolutely gutted that we were disqualified, but the race director was happy for us to carry on – just not as part of the DW 2013.

“We then had to make the agonising decision to withdraw after going for just over 24 hours, because the pain while walking at each portage was just too much.

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“I don't think we had fully anticipated the physical impact that all the portages would take on my legs, but now that I have experienced it, I know what to expect for next time.

“It was an amazing experience and I’m proud of what we achieved as a team. We have already decided we are doing it next year, as we are determined that it will not beat us and we will finish it.”

Sgt Spender, who has served 15 years with the 1st Battalion the Rifles, based in Chepstow, has already raised over £10,000 for the regimental charity Care for Casualties, but hopes for more donations in the coming months.

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.

Elsewhere, Trowbridge firefighter James Mahoney joined Bromham man Chris Todd, who attempted to walk across the Irish Sea in a home-made giant hamster wheel last October, as they finished 31st in 22:46:55.

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