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Toby takes on epic kayak challenge

Photo: Toby Carr
Photo: Toby Carr

A former Barrowden resident has embarked on an epic challenge that will see him sea kayak in all of the UK’s shipping forecast areas.

Toby Carr, 36, who went to Uppingham Community College before doing his A-levels at New College Stamford, set off on his adventure on June 5 and plans to finish by the end of next year. He has divided the current challenge into five different legs of “about 200 to 300 kilometres” each and has just two more to complete.

Toby Carr Photo: Michal Madeira
Toby Carr Photo: Michal Madeira

Toby, who was born with a rare genetic condition, Fanconi’s Anaemia, is currently in Norway where he was invited to talk about his adventure. “I grew up in Rutland and featured in a number of stories related to the illness when I was younger,” he said, adding that money had been raised at the time to send him to the US for experimental gene therapy.

By the age of 12 his blood counts started to plummet and he became transfusion dependant for a number of years, a result of bone marrow failure, which then developed into acute myeloid leukaemia. At age 15 he received a bone marrow transplant.

“Some 20 years on, life hasn’t been without its complications but with determination to see the positive side and keep pushing myself further, I have been awarded a 2018 Churchill Fellowship for my project to sea kayak in all of the UK shipping forecast areas.”

Toby, whose brother Marcus died from the same condition last year, recently completed solo legs of the trip along the exposed coast of southeast Iceland and also battled the notorious tidal waters off the Faroe Islands. Camping along the way, he said each of the legs took a week to 10 days to complete.

“Some days you just can’t go out on the water as it’s too rough,” he said.

“While doing the second leg around the Faroe Islands I was storm bound for two days due to high seas.”

Toby Carr Photo: Michal Madeira
Toby Carr Photo: Michal Madeira

Toby started kayaking six years ago.

“My dad had died suddenly the previous year and I was in need of a new focus,” he said.

Around the same time that he took up kayaking, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove a tumour.

Toby said he had wanted to get back onto the water as soon as possible. “I have met many fantastic people through kayaking who have inspired me to ‘dream big’.

"I hope to be able to encourage others to take on new challenges in their life, however big or small.”

Follow him at www.m-b-g-l.org/my-story

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