Race veteran hopes to conquer in Devizes to Westminster race

Bob Norbury in training for next month’s Devizes to Westminter

Bob Norbury in training for next month’s Devizes to Westminter

First published in News
Last updated

Burbage grandad Bob Norbury hopes to be the oldest man to complete the Devizes to Westminster canoe race in a single kayak.

Mr Norbury, 71, from Ailesbury Way, will set off from Devizes Wharf on Good Friday with hundreds of other competitors on the 125-mile route along the Kennet and Avon Canal and River Thames to the finish line at Westminster Bridge.

The former Para and Army PE instructor last competed in the race in 2003 and swore never to do it again after strong winds caused his kayak to capsize countless times. He finally finished in 27 hours and 50 minutes.

But his involvement in raising cash for the Falklands Chapel Memorial Fund got him back afloat. He hopes to raise upwards of £25,000.

He said: “The chapel is built at the Pangbourne Naval College in Berkshire. Most of those who fell during the Falklands Campaign were buried where they fell and their relatives just can’t go and visit their graves.

“But there is a memorial to them in the chapel and the Chapel Fund pays to bring the relatives to visit it.”

Mr Norbury, who has four children and nine grandchildren, has been training hard and hopes the high water levels resulting from the winter storms do not end up causing the race to be cancelled.

He said: “This will be my last opportunity to take part in the race. I couldn’t cope with this training again. I lost over a stone in weight in three months.

“I would like thank my Burbage friend Simon Goddard for looking after me and dragging me out of the water when I capsize. My wife Doreen has put up with a lot.”

Mr Norbury first took part in the “DW” in 1995 after he was bet a pint of beer by special constable Mike Tupman that he could not do it.

He was runner-up in the 1999 Leeds to Liverpool canoe race while raising £5,300 to send a terminally ill friend Mike Baker to Disney World. Sadly, Mr Baker was too ill to make the trip.

Mr Norbury is also raising money for Burbage groups such as the Royal British Legion, Scouts and Guides, and has already raised nearly £10,000 in sponsorship.

To sponsor Mr Nobury email lcowen@gazetteand herald.co.uk

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