A Grantham man is set to become the first paraplegic kayaker to kayak round the largest lakes in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the British Canoeing’s Three Lakes Challenge.
Andy Sutton, 57, of Gonerby Hill Foot, Grantham, was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord tumour in 2002 which was initially treated by surgery and radiotherapy but he eventually lost the use of his legs.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair since 2010, Andy, who had to give up a busy career in the biotech and pharmaceuticals industry, wanted to remain physically active and took up kayaking with an initial goal of paddling in the sea.
Andy has decided to take on British Canoeing’s Three Lakes Challenge before he may be unable to paddle as the tumour progresses.
He said: “The tumour is also resistant to radiotherapy and with that comes the prospect of either becoming quadriplegic or having to sacrifice the lower spinal cord to save upper body function. When I knew that I’d be in a wheelchair, I wanted to think in terms of what I could do rather than what I couldnt. I wanted to do something that any other able bodied person could do. Kayaking gives me just that and also gives me a sense of freedom.”
Andy regulary kayaks up to 12 miles a week with Rutland Canoe Club as their first disabled paddler.
In 2014, he realised his first goal by paddling on the sea near Oban, partially circling the Isle of Lismore. Since then Andy has been ventured out on the sea at Flamborough Head and the Mawddach Estuary. He has also taken up hand-cycles, rows, plays the banjo and is an apprentice woodworker.
Since finding out that the tumour, which is wrapped around the spinal cord in the lower back, is inoperable, Andy wanted to attempt to become the first paraplegic paddler to complete the gruelling Three Lake challenge in a total paddling time of under 24 hours in June.
He will be raising money for Nottingham University’s PoleStar appeal to install the UK’s first in-theatre intra-operative MRI scanner at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre.
Andy added: “I am nervous but I know I can do it.”
You can follow Andy’s story and 3 Lakes Challenge at: www.brokenbodyofwater.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/brokenbodyofwater/ Facebook:www.facebook.com/brokenbodyofwater/ and www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/broken-body-of-water