ALEX Berks overcame his dislike of messing about on the water to not only learn how to paddle a kayak in the summer holidays, but then take one from Littlehampton to Arundel and back.
And as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, eight days before the trip, Alex, 15, ended up on crutches after suffering a nasty ankle injury playing rugby.
But none of the obstacles could prevent him from completing the stamina-sapping paddle from the beach near the Arun Youth Aqua Centre (AYAC), in Hendon Avenue, along the sea to the mouth of the River Arun, and then upstream to Arundel, before turning around after a rest and for the tide to turn, to head home.
Alex, of The Poplars, Littlehampton, a student at Our Lady of Sion School, Worthing, was accompanied by his father, Andrew, and AYAC kayak instructors Chris Austin and Andy Wilson, who taught him during the summer holidays. It took about five hours to complete the journey.
He was cheered on by his brother Thomas, 25, and mother Christine, on arriving in Arundel and when he made it back to Littlehampton.
Also waiting to welcome them back was town mayor Emma Neno, who congratulated Alex on his achievement.
“We are so proud of him,” said Christine. “He has been chosen to take part in a charity scheme called World Challenge next year, when he will be going in a group of 16 youngsters to Malawi and Mozambique on projects such as rebuilding schools.
“Alex decided to set himself a challenge to do something he hasn’t done before and which scares him slightly – he is not good in the water. Then, with all the hype surrounding the Olympics, he decided to learn how to kayak.”
Alex hopes to raise about £1,000 in sponsorship from his paddle up and down the Arun, towards a £3,895 target needed to make the trip to Africa.