DOGGY paddle was the stroke of choice as fund-raisers took to the river in aid of the Guide Dogs.
A record two hundred and seventy canoeists and kayakers lined up on the River Leam as part of the Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club’s (RLSCC) Doggy Paddle event on Sunday (May 17).
The annual water event sees participants paddle past Warwick Castle and Charlecote Park before eventually coming to a finish opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford 18 miles later.
But in stark contrast to last year’s event, which was one of the coldest and wettest ever, this year was one of the hottest.
And for the first time ever two blind paddlers completed the route.
Maggie Bowes, from Warwick, undertook a crash course with RLSCC and paddled in a double kayak with Janet Harris steering while Mary Pitman, from Falcon Canoe Club in Oxford, completed the course in an open canoe with her husband and guide dog, Oli.
Tess Lukehurst, Doggy Paddle organiser, said: “We love organising this annual event – it’s a great chance to paddle a beautiful and unspoilt stretch of river, to meet old friends and new ones and raise money for a really worthwhile cause.
“The lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000 and with no Government funding, Guide Dogs relies on the generosity of the public to help provide mobility and freedom to people who are blind and partially-sighted.”
Although it is not a race, the first to arrive in Stratford was Daniel Gillett from the Cheshire Police Kayak Club, who completed the course in three hours 36 minutes.
Visit www.rlscc.co.uk and www.guidedogs.org.uk for further information about RLSCC or the Guide Dogs.