FOR even the fittest and healthiest the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race is a huge challenge but for Kevin Dobson who has terminal cancer it may be a race too far.

Mr Dobson, who is a member of Devizes Canoe Club, said: “When I got my cancer diagnosis in September one of my earliest thoughts was, “when is the Devizes to Westminster Race?”

“My prognosis was abysmal and the race in April is outside my expected survival period. When I’m in the canoe, it’s fine, and so far we’ve done really well. We’ve even competed with other people in our canoe club.

“But we’re slowing down and with weeks to go, I don’t have a contingency plan, I’m just crossing my fingers.”

Mr Dobson, who works for Wessex Water in Bath, will be taking part with his son Edd and is raising money for Dorothy House hospice in Winsley who are supporting him all the way.

So far he and his family and friends have raised over £6,000 but they hope to raise even more between now and Easter weekend when the 125 mile race will start at Devizes Wharf.

Kevin, who lives near Chippenham, and Edd train in Devizes twice a week and are building up to the big race by taking part in smaller events.

On February 16 when Storm Dennis forced the cancellation of an official Waterside Race in Newbury they still braved the wind and the rain to do their own unofficial paddle.

They had friend and family on the tow path and managed to complete the course in two hours and 38 minutes which knocked two minutes off their previous race time.

Mr Dobson, who is training while undergoing chemotherapy, said: “Many thanks to our support crew including my family and friends and a bunch of Devizes Canoe Club supporters for doing lots of shouting.

“Thanks also to so many kind people for sending compliments and contributing money. We will continue with our training even if it’s hard work and sod the rain.

“Dorothy House has been an excellent source of advice and help for me. My nurse specialist Sarah comes to see me every week or so and deals with my pain which is an essential part of my care. She’s as important as my chemo and my other treatments. “

“Chris, the physiotherapist has been really helpful in advising on how best to manage my exercise.”

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Chris and Sarah were both helpful and positive about me doing the race. Hopefully, we’ll raise more money for Dorothy House over time. My wife and three children are close and their friends and the canoeing community have been really supportive.”

Verity Clark, Community Fundraiser for Dorothy House Hospice Care said: “We’re all in awe of Kevin’s determination to train for the Waterside canoe races and the Devizes –Westminster Challenge despite his illness. His tremendous fundraising efforts will enable Dorothy House to provide local patients and families with well over two hundred hours of nursing care and support from our Nurse Specialist team across the local community.”

Rob Rawlings, Kevin’s boss at Wessex Water in Bath said: “Kevin is a highly valued and much-loved member of our Water Production Team at Wessex Water. We are so proud of him training for the Devizes-Westminster race despite facing the challenges of his illness. I’m taking part in the Bath Half Marathon for Team Dotty to raise money for Dorothy House and in support of Kevin.”

Dorothy House Hospice Care provides free, palliative and end of life care across 700 square miles, serving a population of 550,000 people in Bath and North East Somerset, parts of Somerset and Wiltshire. Providing hospice services for people living with a life-limiting illness, their families and carers requires significant funds and for every £1 from the NHS, they have to raise a further £5 through fundraising work, gifts in wills, charity shops or education programmes.

To support Kevin Dobson with his canoe challenge and fundraising for the Hospice visit Or to find out more about Dorothy House visit