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21 October 2017

Charlie’s paddling to a fitter future thanks to the ALF

Article by Greg Fidgeon

THE Aaron Lewis Foundation has helped an injured soldier to find freedom out on the water by supplying him with special kit to make his kayaking hobby easier.

Charlie Radclyffe, 38, served in the Irish Guards and was left paralysed from the knees down after an accident during training in 2003. He is dependent on crutches to walk.

After leaving the military, he felt the need to challenge himself physically, which led to several years of travelling that included sailing across the south Atlantic in winter, learning to sit-ski and visiting more than 50 countries.

After meeting his wife in 2012, the couple realised they had a shared love of kayaking.

Charlie said: “This is an activity that we can do equally and can allow us to appreciate beautiful parts of the UK whilst also getting exercise.

“However, due to my legs not working properly, I cannot stand unaided and this means that loading equipment onto a car roof is very difficult.”

The Aaron Lewis Foundation funded a Thule Hullavator Pro loading system, roof rack and Multilift to solve the problem for Charlie.

He explained: “This piece of kit means I only need to lift a kayak up 3ft to load it on to the car. This allows me to quickly and easily load a kayak for myself and my wife and for us to head off for an adventure whenever we want to.”

So far the couple, who live on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, have been out kayaking on the River Teign and on the sea at Salcombe

Charlie added: “I have a physical disability but that really doesn’t stop me from doing much. The kits allow me to independently conduct a sport that I love. This leads to me feeling better within myself and, over time, fitter too.

“I hugely appreciate how lovely it is for my wife and I to share a sport like kayaking and this is deeply nurturing for our relationship. With our first child soon on the way we will have to start looking for a large sit on top kayak for the whole family to share.

“I am very grateful that the ALF has provided this kit as it allows us to have a welcome break from the ongoing building works – although, admittedly, my wife’s interest in kayaking has reduced in the third trimester of pregnancy!