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Charity kayak trip of lifetime

Gareth Bahlke, photographed at Conyer Creek, who is kayaking across the Mississippi River for charity
Gareth Bahlke, photographed at Conyer Creek, who is kayaking across the Mississippi River for charity

by Nicola Forman

An electronic engineer is hoping to dodge alligators and other dangerous water creatures when he kayaks along the Mississippi river this summer.

Gareth Bahlke works at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and his hoping to raise as much money as possible for a new brain tumour unit at the hospital he has worked for for the last 17 years.

He works in the bioengineering department which is part of the clinical neurophysiology department.

He is responsible for the electronic and mechanical workshops and has other responsibilities including the design of equipment used within the hospital.

The hospital needs £2.4m which will make available a 14-bed specialist unit, which should care for people with brain tumours, from diagnosis to the end of life care.

The 45-year-old from Conyer will be kayaking from the source of the Mississippi in Minnesota to its delta in the Gulf of Mexico.

The journey is about 2,370 miles but estimates of the distance vary due to its ever changing course.

He explained he reasons for the trip, saying: “The river was chosen not by accident but due to the fact that it is both navigatable for virtually its entire length making this undertaking possible, but also because of its emotive message to many people.

“This makes it ideal for sponsorship both for me and to gain notice for those people who sponsor me.”

He said food for the trip would be collected on a weekly basis (approximately every 200 miles) as there is no way of carrying enough food for the entire trip. He would carry about nine days food with him allowing for mishaps along the way.

However, the river is well populated and he would be passing through many cities and towns and intend to camp along the way.

He added: “This is no mean feat, but one which I am looking forward to. I’ve had experience in kayaking in the Scouts and also at university.

“As this was admittedly a long time ago I have started training and intend to do a one week trip along the Thames before leaving.”

To sponsor Mr Bahlke,him atg.bahlke@googlemail.com

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