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AXMINSTER: Canoe marathon raises funds for ARC

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

ROWING SURGERY: Dr McKenna and Mr Wakley (in back row middle with medals) meet the support crew after the race

ROWING SURGERY: Dr McKenna and Mr Wakley (in back row middle with medals) meet the support crew after the race

A bump on the head and involuntary bath couldn’t stop an Axminster-based GP and his paddling partner from setting a personal record at the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon during Easter. Team Dr Barry McKenna and Gary Wakley took part in the race for the sixth consecutive time and finished in 22 hours and two minutes - beating their previous best of 22 hours and eight minutes. Dr McKenna uses the race as a major fundraiser for Axminster-based counselling service ARC, of which he is the chairman. Fundraising from this year’s raise currently stands somewhere between £1,500 and £2,000, and Dr McKenna said: “The support has been absolutely brilliant, both in terms of fundraising and the support crew during the race.” He credits relatively warm weather during the race and an increased focus on paddling technique during preparations for the fast time. But things didn’t go too well about seven hours into the race.Sporting a bruised forehead, he said: “You duck under low bridges but I mistimed one coming up and got knocked into the water. Stupid me.” A rudder also had to be repaired along the way after another mishap. The race has been held annually during Easter weekend since 1948, and has 77 portages (where vessels are carried around an obstacle in water or overland between waterways) along its 125 miles. ARC was formed in 2007 by psychotherapist Catherine Davies, and is an independent body but integrated with the NHS mental health structure and referrals are made through Axminster Medical Practice. Race sponsorship can still be made by leaving a sealed envelope labelled ‘canoe challenge’ at the surgery or ARC shop. Donations can also be made online at arcaxminster. org

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