Playdale Paddlers take on kayak challenge for local charity!

Friday, 28th July 2017 3:31 pm

After weeks of post-work training and fundraising activities, nine Playdale staff members (collectively known as the Playdale Paddlers!) successfully completed their charity challenge to kayak the 11-mile length of Lake Windermere on Saturday, for the local Bendrigg Trust charity and have raised a phenomenal £1400 for this great cause!

The idea for this 11-mile paddle challenge came from Frazer Stewart, a Design Engineer in our Technical Team. Having recently purchased a kayak he was keen to get out more and thought a challenge to work towards would be the best way! He soon discovered colleagues that owned/had access to kayaks and canoes and were keen to join him. With the largest natural lake in England being just ten minutes away from Playdale HQ, activities on or in water are naturally appealing and accessible! What started off as a small team of three challenge, soon gained interest & momentum and rapidly became an event for a team of nine!

Frazer Stewart and Stephen Cowley training on Coniston Water

The Bendrigg Trust is one of Playdale’s chosen good causes for 2017 (originally nominated by Frazer, and successfully chosen by staff); based in Old Hutton near Kendal they are industry leading experts for outdoor and physical activities for people with disabilities.  Frazer also has close ties with the charity as he was fortunate to receive expert help and advice from Nick Liley, Bendrigg’s Principal, in the design stage of the inclusive units from Playdale’s recently launched Big City Plus range of modular tower units.

Twelve weeks of training then took place where the dedicated group would head off straight from work twice a week for an evening on the water, practising both on Lake Windermere and Coniston Water. Often paddling in the summer evening sunshine, these training sessions became a great social occasion with definite cathartic & therapeutic effects after a hectic day in the office! (They were tempted to start taking fishing rods out with them after one training session saw them literally surrounded by jumping fish!)

Post-work training at Fell Foot, Lake Windermere

Challenge day soon came around and never before have a group of people been so obsessed with the weather forecast…it did not look good! Just 24 hours prior to launch the impending forecast threatened a force 5/6 headwind, storms and much rain! There was a definite risk of cancellation but fortunately things weren’t quite as bad as predicted.

An 8am launch from Ambleside meant a 5.30am start for the Paddlers! They woke up to grey skies and really were uncertain of what their fate, weather wise, would be!

The Playdale Paddlers ready for their 8am launch!

However, despite a day of classic Cumbrian rain, there was no wind and thankfully no thunder and lightening! Setting off at this time and in these conditions meant that the lake was unusually quiet meaning there wasn’t as much ‘lake sharing’ to consider as normal. The calm water meant the heavy rain literally bounced off it making bubbles as far as the eye could see…but if incessant rain was the price the Paddlers had to pay for no wind – they were happy to pay!

Stephen Cowley and Matt Harby just after launch – wet already!

Despite the lake being relatively quiet, Owen Price still managed to be on the receiving end of a bit of ‘lake rage’ when the ‘Teal’ lake cruiser had to beep him out of the way! (He must have ended up in the ‘shipping lane’!)

The Playdale Paddlers had a fabulous support network made up of a kayak transporter supplied by Edmunson Electrical, Lake Windermere Lake Wardens and a safety boat manned by Dave Ellis and carrying Ryan Douglas from Playdale who kept the team well supplied with sweets, words of encouragement and progress updates…yes they got very wet too!

Ryan Douglas; soaked but still smiling!

Their target time was originally five hours which, as training progressed well, was then reduced to four. The Paddlers were uncertain that they would do it within four hours, especially with the conditions on the day…but incredibly they completed the challenge in just THREE HOURS & TWENTY MINUTES! A fantastic achievement!

“We did it!”

Each team member agreed that throughout the eleven wet & grey miles paddled, Bendrigg was in all their thoughts which was enough to spur them all on and keep them going. Their generous sponsorship was at the forefront of their minds, and the knowledge of the impact that time spent at Bendrigg has on the lives of people with disabilities.

Alison Ellis from our Technical Team told us “I never thought I would have appreciated or enjoyed sweets for breakfast as much as I did an hour into the challenge! We’re all really proud of ourselves and what we’ve achieved as a team. We’re bowled over with everyone’s generosity and cannot thank our sponsors enough. Every ‘Paddler’ is still buzzing from the experience and it’s definitely given us the impetus to plan a future charity challenge.“

Huge well done to the Playdale Paddlers – champions one and all!

If you are impressed with their achievement and would like to donate to this great cause, there is still time! Just follow this link >  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/playdalepaddle

Click here to visit the Bendrigg Trust website to find out about this incredible facility.