75th D-Day Anniversary – Kayak to Normandy

The Challenge

To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, our intrepid team of six will kayak across the English Channel in three 2-person kayaks to reach Normandy in under 24 hours. Following a similar route that was taken by the D-Day invasion force this gruelling 100-mile kayak will highlight the spirit of co-operation and teamwork.

The Cause

In completing this challenge we intend to raise funds and awareness for Blesma, a charity born out of the aftermath of WWI which supports limbless and injured veterans to live independent and fulfilling lives, for life.Team member and former Royal Marine, Joe Humphrey, lost his left leg while serving in Afghanistan and personally has benefitted from this amazing charity. We also hope to promote adventure, teamwork and inclusion with men and women with different skills and abilities working together to achieve something incredible.

Ian Waller, Operations Director at Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, said:

“Blesma wishes Joe and the ITN team every success in accomplishing their goal in this fitting tribute to those that took part in the events in Normandy 75 years ago.”

The team

Joel Whittaker served eight years in the Parachute Regiment before working with media teams in various war zones. He now leads the High Risk department at ITN. He devised this latest challenge to promote adventure and teamwork whilst raising funds for Blesma.

Mandy Clark is a journalist and former war correspondent who has always enjoyed a challenge but this will be her greatest to date. During her three years living and working on the frontline, she witnessed soldiers and civilians suffer catastrophic injuries in war. She believes in the importance of that lifelong support that Blesma provides for servicemen and women.

Joe Humphrey was a Royal Marines Commando for nine years. In Afghanistan, a sniper shot him and he lost his left leg. He competed twice in Wounded Warrior Games, winning medals for swimming freestyle, breaststroke and relay. Joe is looking forward to working as a team again, pushing himself physically and mentally as well as raising money for a great cause.

Alyx Barker is a producer at ITN. She’s always had a thirst for adventure but has never tested herself quite like this! With forces friends serving and former, she’s looking forward to facing this challenge for a fantastic cause.

Bryony Henderson is a doctor in South-West London but in her spare time enjoys competing in triathlons and other endurance events. She also enjoys rock climbing and has spent many hours looking out to sea when on various crags but, having never set foot in a kayak previously, this wll be a challenge that is testing both physically and mentally.

Rebecca Tweed is enjoying a career break from corporate life. The challenge will be a huge step up from her distant university rowing days. She relishes being part of a highly motivated team and stretching both her physical and mental capabilities.

Click here to donate.

About Blesma, The Limbless Veterans

Blesma, The Limbless Veterans was formed in the years following the First World War and became a national charity in 1932. Blesma is dedicated to assisting serving and ex-Service men and women who have suffered limb loss or the loss of use of a limb, an eye or loss of sight. We support these men and women and their families in their communities throughout the UK and overseas.
Since 1932, we have been the only national Service charity that supports limbless veterans for the duration of their lives; just as we are still caring for our surviving World War II veterans, we also look after those who have survived complex trauma injuries through recent conflicts, accidents or illness, and will need our specialised support as they face the long journey ahead. Blesma aims to ensure that all serving or ex-service men and women who have lost sight, limbs or the use of limbs can lead independent and fulfilling lives and will not be failed, forgotten or left behind.

For further information on Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, contact Jessica Mackinnon, In-house journalist ihj@blesma.org / 020 8590 1124/ www.blesma.org

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