Richard Hunt, a Royal Navy veteran amputee from Fareham, will tomorrow set off to kayak around the entire coast of the UK in an attempt to break the solo kayaking distance record. His challenge, in aid of BLESMA – The Limbless Veterans (formerly known as the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association) and aptly named ‘The Great Paddle Round’ is expected to take around four months.
His challenge will launch from the HMS Victory in Portsmouth today, the last ship he served on before being medically discharged from the Royal Navy. He will undertake the challenge wearing a waterproof prosthetic limb provided by prosthetic specialists, Ottobock.
With MP Mark Hoban and Mayor of Fareham Susan Bayford in attendance to see Richard launch his challenge, he hopes to travel a distance of approximately 2,300 miles using a sit-on-top kayak, which will break the current record for the longest solo kayak journey held by Helen Skelton on the Amazon River for Comic Relief. He has been training for 13 months preparing thoroughly for it both physically and mentally.
Richard joined the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman in Radar Operation at 17 but sustained a knee injury playing rugby. Surgery on the knee caused nerve damage and Richard was left in constant pain and discomfort. Following 20 further unsuccessful operations to correct the damage he made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated above the knee. Richard struggled to come to terms with the loss of his limb and sought help from BLESMA, the national charity for all limbless serving and ex-service men and women, their widows and dependants. The charity helped him rediscover his passion for physical activity, becoming a fan of water sports, including kayaking.
“I had been toying with the idea of setting myself a major challenge to raise money and awareness for BLESMA. That was the birth of The Great Paddle Round, a solo kayaking mission around the British Isles,” states Richard Hunt. “Since receiving a new Ottobock prosthetic in February 2013, I have been training for the challenge every day. I have been gaining valuable experience on adapting kayaking techniques and the kayak itself for someone missing a leg. It is going to be a tough challenge for me but I am determined to put my all into it.”
Ottobock, a world leading supplier of innovative mobility solutions, has provided Richard with a prosthetic Aqua-Limb to help him with his adventure. The Aqua-Limb is a fully waterproof prosthetic leg. It allows Richard to balance in his Kayak and improve his speed and stability. For training and every-day use, Richard uses a high-tech C-Leg, which is a computerised knee that allows him to box, cycle and lift weights in the gym.
For more information on Ottobock’s range of innovative solutions that restore mobility please visit www.ottobock.co.uk or follow @ottobockuk.
For more information on BLESMA injured serviceman challenge please visitwww.blesma.org or follow @BLESMA