Local resident Rob Jones has canoed 60 miles from Inverness to Fort William with his friend Piers Martin, raising over £3500 for the British Heart Foundation. We spoke to Rob to hear more about his challenge.
Have you canoed before or was this a totally new challenge for you?
I’ve done a fair amount of canoeing in my life and in 2008 I canoed across the English Channel with a friend. I was friends with Piers at the time so he knew about that and suggested that this canoe could be a good idea.
Did you have to train a lot for the challenge?
It’s more mental than physical really. We’re both reasonably fit individuals anyway; I play a lot of sport and go to the gym and Piers cycles, so we didn’t actually do any practice in a canoe beforehand! By the very nature of the trip, we could do it as quickly or slowly as we wanted to, and so it was more about being comfortable in the canoe, which we both already were, rather than specific fitness training. We actually ended up paddling for six or seven hours each day and there were definitely times where it hurt or got a bit boring, but we just had to press on.
What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?
It was actually quite a challenge to pack all the stuff up before we left. We needed to carry everything on the boat with us and so had to travel lightly. But we also had to cater for the possibility of capsizing or getting wet, so that tended to take up a lot of space.
When we were actually there, it was particularly difficult in the bigger locks. They got quite windy and it was like canoeing in the sea with waves lapping over the sides. You have to be careful and make sure the boat is in the right position – safety is obviously the biggest priority.
What made you decide to take on the challenge in aid of the British Heart Foundation?
I lost my mum to a heart attack in 2018. It came completely out of the blue – she wasn’t ill or anything, it just happened. Losing your mum at any stage in your life is heartbreaking and horrible, and it really has an effect on you. It was without a doubt the worst day of my life and I’m definitely still dealing with it now. For me, part of dealing with that is doing something constructive and helping to stop this happening to other families. If the money we have raised goes some way to helping avoid other families going through what happened to us then that is all I hope for. Going through some marginal level of discomfort is nothing compared to the discomfort we went through and to prevent others going through that, I would do it 100 times. My mum would be really proud of us.
How does it feel to have raised over £3500?
When we started fundraising originally, we thought we would just send the link around to friends and family, then it suddenly just took off. It feels so amazing to have raised so much and I’m still shocked every time I see it on the JustGiving page. Everyone has been affected by the current situation and the fact that people are willing to put their hands in their pockets to donate any amount at all, and even to take the time out of their day to do it, is amazing and very flattering. The support from everyone has been amazing and I still can’t quite believe it. I really want to say a huge thank you to anyone who has or will go on to donate to the British Heart Foundation.
I completely appreciate that not everyone can contribute but raising awareness and speaking about these issues is just as important.
And of course we have to ask, because this is Love Goostrey after all, how long have you lived in Goostrey and what’s your favourite thing about the village?
I moved to Goostrey from London with my fiancé at the end of September last year. I used to live here when I was about three and I’m pretty sure my parents also met here, so the village has a lot of meaning and memories for me. My favourite part about the village is the community aspect. Everyone on my road knows each other and they are all so lovely. Plus it’s nice to be able to walk to the pub!
At Love Goostrey, we want to congratulate Rob and Piers on an incredible achievement, and thank Rob for speaking to us. The link for their JustGiving page, where you can read more about their challenge and the charity, is here.