Northumberland paddle boarder takes on 96km challenge for RNLI

A Bamburgh woman is tackling a 96km stand up paddle board race to support The Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:25 pm
Claire Watson-Armstrong, whose family own Bamburgh Castle.
Claire Watson-Armstrong, whose family own Bamburgh Castle.

Claire Watson-Armstrong is taking on the ultra-race through Scotland’s Great Glen from Fort William to Inverness.

The 45-year-old public relations consultant will be completing the race over two days, paddling solo.

She said: “I am excited but nervous for the Great Glen – but I love a challenge, which I am sure this is going to be.

Paddle boarding training.

"At 34km long, Loch Ness alone is further to paddle than crossing from Dover to Calais, but I will be giving it my all. I just hope Nessie is kind to us and brings us good weather – I might slip a nip of whisky into the Loch Ness to keep her settled!”

The RNLI has a special connection for Claire, whose family own Bamburgh Castle.

She said: “The first ever known lifeboat was launched at Bamburgh in 1786 by Dr John Sharp, a trustee of the castle during the 18th century for the Crewe Trustees.

"The castle also served as the first lifeboat station in history. It has an incredible history of helping to save lives at sea and if I can add to this - in a very small way - it makes me very proud to do so.

Claire said: “I have grown up living by the sea and have paddled and swam in the waters off the Northumberland coast most of my life.

"I have the utmost respect for the brave RNLI volunteers who risk their own lives to save others.

"When I start to feel tired or overwhelmed by the race, I’ll be inspired to pick myself up, think positively and keep paddling.”

Also raising funds for the RNLI are Anna Little from Wylam and Daniel Godridge from Catterick Garrison who aim to complete the journey non-stop on a tandem.

The trio have had global support in their preparations for the race which begins at the famous Neptune’s Staircase on Saturday, September 18.

Stand up paddle board legend and coach, Maui-based Suzie Cooney has been providing online mentoring and training for Claire via Zoom while Canadian gold medal canoeist and SUP rider Larry Cain has been working with Anna.

You can donate by going to

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