See canoe challenge firefighters blaze past

Mat and Mike PNL-150813-164118001
Mat and Mike PNL-150813-164118001

A team of Midlands firefighters will be paddling through the area this weekend as they attempt to canoe the length of the country’s longest canal.

But blink and you’ll probably miss them. For Mike Wilson, Matt Bettany, Jac Vincent, and Jack Reinhold, from Staffordshire, are attempting to complete the whole 140 miles of the Grand Union Canal and negotiate its 166 locks in just 48 hours, non-stop.

The team, aged from 24 to 37, have set themselves the challenge to raise £5,000 for the Peter Pan Centre for Children with Special Needs in Newcastle. Mike’s autistic son, Finley, attends the centre every week, where he is given specialist support.

Mike, a care home manager, enlisted the help of his old schoolfriend Matt, a firefighter. And Matt then roped in fellow firefighters Jac and Jack.

Matt said: “None of us had even stepped in a boat before this started. We’ve had to learn everything from how to paddle to portaging – which is getting the boat in and out of the water.

“It’s going to be an extremely tough challenge. People who know about canoeing have questioned if it’s possible to do it in the time we’ve allocated, but we’re certainly going to give it our best shot.”

The challenge starts at 8am on Friday in Birmingham, and should complete on Sunday in London. See