Outside interest: canoeing

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 21 Oct 2015

Rebecca SmithBidwells' planner Rebecca Smith says she found running for charity "a tad boring" so she focused her outside interest on canoeing.

How did you get into canoeing?

I've completed a couple of sponsored runs for charity in the past, but if I'm honest, I find the task of just running a tad boring. I much prefer a more physical challenge involving something a little bit different. That's why I was so excited when we at Bidwells decided to canoe over 36 miles down the River Wye to raise money for Milton Keynes hospital's Leo's Appeal to enhance children's services at the hospital.

What does it involve?

The canoe challenge was taken on by 24 Bidwellians from our Milton Keynes, Oxford and St Albans offices. The challenge involved canoeing 36 miles over two days, with the majority of us having little to no experience of being in a canoe, let alone getting ourselves 36 miles down a river in one. We started our adventure in Hereford; setting off down the River Wye in 12 two-man Canadian canoes - quite a sight for the local anglers. We camped overnight at Hoarwithy, before hitting the water again to finish just south of Ross on Wye. Such was our determination to complete the challenge, we finished ahead of schedule on both days.

Why do you do it?

The challenge coupled the test of physical endurance with the opportunity to raise money and awareness for a much-needed cause.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

The toughest thing is staying mentally strong. As I'm frequently told, it's all in the mind. The second day of the canoe challenge was particularly testing; at this point hands, arms and back all ached, but the camaraderie of my fellow canoeists kept me going.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

The most rewarding thing about the canoe challenge was sharing the experience and accomplishment with colleagues. It's great to know our endeavours raised around £4,000 for the hospital's garden transformation project. 

Are there any similarities between your day job and completing canoe challenges?

Both planning and canoeing in a group need team work and communication. It would have been near impossible to haul our canoes in and out of the river, or set up our tents, after a hard day's canoeing, without teamwork and communication. Also, being in a two-man canoe meant you had to be in sync with your fellow canoeist - you don’t get very far if you're not communicating with each other in canoeing or planning.