Monday 2nd April 2012
Two Royal Marines who were injured in Afghanistan plan to paddle 125 miles in 30 hours as part of the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon.
The efforts of Captain Jon White, 28, and Colour Sergeant Lee John Waters, 37, will support the work of SSAFA Forces Help and the Royal Marines Association.
Jon, from 40 Commando, is a triple amputee after he was injured by an IED blast in Sangin, Afghanistan in June 2010. The explosion resulted in the loss of both of his legs and his right arm at the elbow. His partner, Lee, was Captain White's troop Sergeant on Operation Herrick 12 at Patrol Base Mahboob before he was shot three times while on tour; in his jaw, in the left hand, and his left foot.
Jon, from Honiton, Devon, and Lee, from Portsmouth, will be the only injured serviceman participating in the marathon, now in its 64th year, when it takes place over Easter weekend. The pair will have to complete the course non-stop, continuing through the night as they encounter 77 locks and weirs, known as portages.
The portages pose the greatest challenge to the team as they will have to get in and out of the boat which is especially difficult for Jon.
He said: "It's not that easy for me to get in and out of the boat and carry the kayak. I'll probably have to swap my prosthetic legs to walk a mile which will definitely slow us down a bit. Due to this, we will have a support group, which includes my wife Becky, working with us overnight. Our aim is to complete the marathon in under 30 hours and we hope to do this with the support of family and friends."
The two were keen to support the work of two charities which had helped them in their rehabilitation. Jon said: "They have both helped us out and it's comforting to know that they are there for us whenever we need them. We are at a stage where we can give something back and say thank you for the support we have been given."
Jon and Lee's families stayed at SSAFA's Norton Homes in Birmingham and Ashtead in Surrey, while they were receiving treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court.
Lee, who completed two Devizes to Westminster marathons in the 1990s, said: "The staff at Norton House do wonders to comfort the countless forces families that have had the misfortune to experience such turbulent times. I'm looking forward to doing the race with all of our unique challenges. Jon is a legend and is an inspiration to us all."