Army veteran finishes epic kayak challenge

A delighted Dan Smith celebrates finishing the challenge with his two children.
A delighted Dan Smith celebrates finishing the challenge with his two children.

An Army veteran has finished a gruelling charity challenge, in which he kayaked the length of Great Britain in a bid to raise £25,000 for the Royal British Legion.

Dan Smith, 39, is a father-of-two from Seahouses, and served in the British Army for 14 years, completing military tours of Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, Dan took on and completed the 60-day challenge, kayaking more than 900 miles in the process.

Dan started his mission in the Scottish Highlands in August.

He camped by night and kayaked through iconic locations including Edinburgh, Manchester and London, before completing his challenge in Littlehampton, West Sussex, on Saturday.

This is the first time anyone has attempted to kayak inland the full length of Great Britain.

All of the funds raised through the challenge, which Dan dubbed the Paddle of Britain, will be donated to the Legion, which is currently leading a national movement to say thank you to the First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

Dan said: “Completing the Paddle is one of my proudest achievements – going through a unique endurance challenge was a huge goal.

“This year marks the landmark 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and I felt passionate about raising money for the Legion.

“With no surviving veterans from World War One, it feels more important than ever to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of future generations.

“I hope the Paddle of Britain encourages people to stop and think about that day 100 years ago, but also to spare a thought for the men and women all over the country who have served, and are still serving, in the Armed Forces.

“I also hope that I’ve inspired people to get out there and embark upon their own challenges.

“I’m very grateful to my friends, colleagues, fellow military veterans, sponsors and all the many incredible people that I have met along the way who cheered me on and supported me by donating.

”In particular, I want to thank my family, especially my wife and two children.”

Simon O’Leary, the Legion’s assistant director of fund-raising, said: “We are very grateful to Dan for completing this challenge for the Legion. Congratulations on a brilliant effort.”

Dan has so far raised more than £15,400. To help him reach the £25,000 target, donate via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paddleofbritain or text POBD79 with the amount you would like to donate to 700701.