DEVIZES Canoe Club coach Juliet Fooks is to take on a race known as the Everest of the paddling world to raise money in memory of a friend who died from cancer in 2014.

Mrs Fooks, 47, will be raising money for the Brighter Futures Radiotherapy Appeal at Great Western Hospital, Swindon when she takes part in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race as a solo competitor over the Easter weekend in March.

Gill Hussey died three years ago but her farmer husband James has been raising money for the appeal by taking part in the Hackpen 10k race and inviting visitors to see crop circle formations on his farm in the Broad Hinton. He also took part in the Barbury Horse Trials in 2016 to raise cash.

He said: "Gill and I would regularly make 70 mile round trip to Oxford for radiotherapy treatment, it was exhausting both mentally and physically. Having a unit in Swindon will help patients and their families in the region help face the challenge of cancer.”

Now Mrs Fooks is to do her bit by taking part in the race,which has been held annually since 1948. It is 125 miles long and is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning which produces a memorable sense of achievement for those successfully completing it.

She said: "Gill was an incredible person, loved and admired by all. She never let having cancer stop her from living life absolutely full speed, but even Gill had to put real life on hold on her long journeys to Oxford for radiotherapy treatment."

Mrs Fooks, whose husband William is a former commanding officer of the 9th/12 Royal Lancers and has three children, is a lover of outdoor life and sport. She started canoeing when a student in Exeter and became a kayak coach. She has also competed in many canoe competitions and also taken part in the sport of National League Canoe Polo.

After numerous postings in connection with her husband's military career the family came to Wiltshire in 2012 and she joined Devizes Canoe Club.

In November, Devizes Canoe Club nominated her as Coach Of The Year, after coaching her own three children’s success, as well as mentoring students from Dauntsey’s School and coaching the Moonrakers kayaking.

She said: "My focus now lies on her ultimate challenge of completing The Devizes To Westminster International Canoe Race single handed in my K1 Lancelot racing kayak and raising money for Brighter Futures in memory of Gill Hussey."

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