Friends from South Warwickshire pedal the Grand Union Canal - The Leamington Observer
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16th Aug, 2022

Friends from South Warwickshire pedal the Grand Union Canal

TWO friends from South Warwickshire have yet again successfully completed a pedalo challenge for charity – this time a ten mile journey along the Grand Union Canal.

Alex Pearson from Stratford and Emma Brayne from Warwick navigated tunnels and locks as part of their intrepid challenge, in aid of local children’s charity Molly Ollys, and they have raised £590 so far.

The pair were joined by Ms Pearson’s canine companions Archie and Chester, and are hoping to beat last year’s total of £2,000, including match-funding by The Morrisons Foundation, once all the sponsorship money has rolled in.

The fundraiser took place on Wednesday June 15 – a significant date for the charity as this is the anniversary of eight-year-old Molly Ollerenshaw’s death. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the charity.

The ladies, who had the support of Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, pedalled between The View at Wootton Wawen and Hatton, where Molly’s family live and the end of the challenge was marked by a poignant release of 20 butterflies outside Hatton Café.

Ms Pearson: “We found it harder this year. We also got very wet in Shrewley Tunnel. It was very dark, foggy and scary in there. We brushed against the side of the tunnel and loads of spiders fell in the boat and neither of us like spiders so we had to come out of the boat and brush them off.

“The dogs were very well behaved but Archie did go in the water and had a good swim. I’m very proud and very tired. It’s amazing what we can do. We have a day of pain when children suffer a lot more. This is nothing compared to what children and families have to go through and that’s the key part.

“I never train. I just wing it. But pedalling down the canal is not something you can really train for.”

While Ms Brayne added: “People do say we’re completely barmy but we do it all with love and pride.

“The tunnel was a really big concern for me because one of my fears is enclosed dark spaces so when you enter the tunnel you can see the end but it’s actually an illusion because it’s quite long. It was like raining inside so it was real achievement of mine to get through that right at the end.

“It was harder this year because it was longer distance and even though we didn’t have as many locks, they were spaced out and not in our favour.

“But it was really lovely to go through all the little villages and see all the places we don’t normally see.

“We hit a wall at one point and it took some time to get our momentum again but we reminded ourselves about why we’re doing this and that really pushed us at the end.

“We’re planning to do something again next year but not involving a pedalo this time. We’re going to think of something even more unique!”

Charity Molly Ollys emotionally supports children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. It does that through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.

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