Paddles up for West Lynn’s Peter and friends on charity canoeing challenge

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For most people, celebrating their 30th birthday might involve a night out or a weekend away with their friends and family.

But, instead of spending money, one West Norfolk fundraiser intends to raise plenty as he marks the milestone by paddling 132 miles for the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.

Peter O’Donnell, who turned 30 last week, is making final preparations for the challenge on the River Great Ouse, which is due to begin next Friday.

Together with his friends Luke Webster, from Wisbech, who also reached his 30th birthday earlier this month, and Craig Skerry, who lives in London, he is planning to paddle along the waterway from Buckingham to Downham over a seven day period.

The trio plan to carry everything they need for the trip with them and camp along the route each night.

Although the group has only had two hours of training from one of their sponsors, Bedfordshire based firm Canoe Trail, Mr O’Donnell said the company had also donated a large amount of equipment and provided information on how to navigate the waterway safely.

He added: “Instead of planning a nice weekend away we thought we should challenge ourselves and try and make a difference.

“We want to show that if three very inexperienced best friends can do it, so can everyone.”

Mr O’Donnell is deputy general manager of the Freebridge Farm restaurant in West Lynn, which is also raising funds for the hospital, as part of a national campaign by the site’s owners, Brewers’ Fayre.

He said that reading about how money donated to the hospital in previous years had changed families’ lives had inspired him to take up the challenge for the cause.

He has also thanked Freebridge Farm for their support, along with Gaywood-based company Road Art, who have also made a donation and funded some equipment.

So far, the trio, who are aiming to raise around £2,000 for the hospital, has received £850 in online pledges.

Anyone who would like to donate can do so online at