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'Human swan’ paramotorist Sacha Dench injured in crash had been to Sittingbourne


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The "human swan" paramotorist seriously injured in a fatal crash at the weekend had been in Sittingbourne last month.

Sacha Dench had been nearing the end of a 3,000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge ahead of the Cop26 conference due to start on October 31 when her paramotor - a paraglider with an electric motor - crashed in the western Highlands of Scotland.

Seriously injured: conservationist Sacha Dench who visited Sittingbourne last month. Picture: SachaDench.com
Seriously injured: conservationist Sacha Dench who visited Sittingbourne last month. Picture: SachaDench.com

Dan Burton, a member of her support staff, was killed in the incident late on Saturday afternoon. Miss Dench was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with serious injuries.

The Australian-born adventurer visited a new battery storage depot being developed by Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, alongside the National Grid’s Kemsley substation near Sittingbourne on Friday, August 13, as part of the marathon six-week Guinness world record attempt.

She said at the time: "This is the first time an electric paramotor has been used for such a long journey. It is already proving to be an exciting challenge. I’m enjoying meeting people, like those at Kemsley battery storage site, hearing their stories and talking to them about climate change solutions."

She added: “It is beautiful up there. I get incredible views. I’m getting to see how the landscape and its features, including coastal landmarks like wind farms, power stations, rivers, farmland and wilderness, all fit together."

In statement, the trustees of the Conservation Without Borders, which was founded by Miss Dench, said the accident happened near Loch Na Gainmhich in the far north of Scotland.

Seriously injured: conservationist Sacha Dench who visited Sittingbourne last month. Picture: SachaDench.com
Seriously injured: conservationist Sacha Dench who visited Sittingbourne last month. Picture: SachaDench.com
Sacha Dench was taking part in a 3,000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge on a paramotor. Picture: SachaDench.com
Sacha Dench was taking part in a 3,000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge on a paramotor. Picture: SachaDench.com

The statement said: “We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident.

“Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital. Her injuries are serious but not life-threatening.

“Both highly experienced paramotorists. Our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton to whom we offer our sincere condolences."

The incident was attended by police and medics and enquiries are underway to establish the details.

The statement added that the families of those involved had been informed and that the Round Britain Climate Challenge would now be put on hold.

Paramotorist Sacha Dench completed her epic flight from Russia to the Channel Gliding Club, Waldershare Park, Dover, in 2016 raising awareness for Bewick swans. Picture: Tony Flashman
Paramotorist Sacha Dench completed her epic flight from Russia to the Channel Gliding Club, Waldershare Park, Dover, in 2016 raising awareness for Bewick swans. Picture: Tony Flashman
Paramotorist Sacha Dench completed her epic flight from Russia to the Channel Gliding Club, Waldershare Park, Dover, in 2016 raising awareness for Bewick swans. Picture: Tony Flashman
Paramotorist Sacha Dench completed her epic flight from Russia to the Channel Gliding Club, Waldershare Park, Dover, in 2016 raising awareness for Bewick swans. Picture: Tony Flashman

It is understood the pair had been flying earlier in the day and had landed before taking off again at around 3.30pm. Miss Dench had begun her climate challenge in June, taking off from Stevenston in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The conservationist, who lives in Devon, was the first woman to cross the English Channel by paramotor. She was dubbed the "human swan" after an epic flight from Russia to Britain in 2016 to raise awareness of Bewick swans. She landed at Waldershare Park, Dover.

She was planning to present a compilation of her stories at COP26 climate change talks in Glasgow in November. Her flight around the UK was highlighting a campaign to encourage 140,000 people to sign up to CountUsIn global carbon initiative in one month. For information visit www.count-us-in.org

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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