Kayaking around Great Britain

On Friday 6th July 2012 at approximately 2pm, Dr Martin Lee arrived back in Greenwich, London after 97 days of Kayaking around the British Isles. This consisted of around 26 miles a day, every day for just over 3 months. His aim was to complete the challenge in 100 days.

Very few have ever done it before. On April fool’s day of this year, Martin set of from the AHOY centre in East London in his Kayak in an attempt to circumnavigate the British Isles, on his own. He is doing it in an effort to raise £100,000 for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS).

After each days Kayak, Martin slept pretty much where he hit shore. In the process he has built quite a following as he interacts with communities all around the coastline. Including on an occasion, an inspection by the police.

His challenge met with some tough conditions including thick fog in the Bristol Channel and further north around St Andrews, Martin contended with more sea fog, high winds, sometimes resulting in a fresh swim in the seas and a few blisters.

Dr Martin Lee is a 33 year old Consultant Rheumatologist at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. Rheumatology is a medical speciality involved in caring for people with bone and joint diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

His path in life and inspiration for his challenge has been significantly moulded by his Aunty Maureen who suffered from an aggressive form of RA for the majority of her life. He had great admiration for her and despite the pain and disability that she suffers as a consequence of her condition; Martin has never once heard her complain. This is an admirable personality trait that he sees time and time again in patients whom he treats with RA. Maureen inspired Martin to study medicine with a plan to become a rheumatologist. In his words "I think she is the primary reason that I am where I am today and has probably driven my desire to complete this challenge for NRAS".

He grew up by the sea in Poole, Dorset and was first introduced to kayaking at school around the age of 15. In 1996 Martin was fortunate enough to be involved in a 6 week kayaking expedition with the British Schools Exploring Society around North Vancouver Island. This expedition involved mapping of cultural and ecological sites for the Canadian Government, trail blazing through the temperate rainforests and lots of kayaking. He has continued this passion, regularly taking part in sea and surf kayaking around the Devon and Cornwall coastline.  He has achieved the BCU (British Canoe Union) 4 Star Leadership Award in sea kayaking giving him plenty of knowledge and experience in kayaking.

Martin wanted to combine his two passions for good and raise money for a cause that is very dear to him. He knows what he is trying to achieve will be, at time, incredibly tough and he will have to go through a considerable amount of pain, loneliness and fatigue. But in some ways, this will just be a reminder of why he is doing it. RA sufferers deal with a chronic illness which affects their quality of life on a daily basis.

 

Christopher Brisley