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Playdale Paddlers provide boost for Bendrigg

Playdale Paddlers present cheque to Bendrigg Trust Fundraising Officer Sarah Garman

[A] group of plucky staff members from Playdale Playgrounds (Haverthwaite), collectively known as the Playdale Paddlers, undertook a kayaking challenge back in July this year.

Their challenge (that they chose to accept!) was to kayak the 11-mile length of Lake Windermere all in aid of the incredible local Bendrigg Trust charity. The idea for this paddle challenge came from Frazer Stewart, a Design Engineer in Playdale’s 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, soon gained interest & momentum and rapidly became an event for a team of nine!

Stephen Cowley and Matt Harby just after launch – wet already

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 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!)

Despite incessant rain from beginning to end on challenge day, the Playdale Paddlers successfully completed the 11 miles stretch in just three hours & twenty minutes, a truly fantastic achievement!

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!

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.

Playdale Paddlers celebrate at the finish

Alison Ellis from Playdale’s Technical Team said “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.”

Sponsorship and donations came in from far and wide over many weeks. When the final grand total was announced it was a phenomenal figure of £1,428.86! At the cheque presentation this week, Bendrigg Fundraising Officer Sarah told us “After closely following the dedicated training and epic challenge day itself, it was wonderful to visit Playdale HQ to meet and thank the infamous Playdale Paddlers in person. The funds raised will help people with disabilities have their own amazing adventures – increasing their self-confidence, promoting independence and realising their full potential. Well done to everyone for such a phenomenal achievement – we are so grateful for your support!”

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