The Papillon Project

PAP LEEKY: Paddling an improvised raft 27 miles of the Norfolk Broads from Norwich to Great Yarmouth

To paddle an improvised raft 27 miles from Norwich to Great Yarmouth along the Norfolk Broads in four days to raise environmental awareness about climate change and the beginning of our charitable work in Great Yarmouth come September 2023.
raised of £10,000 target
RCN 1189383


What are we doing?

From 17th-20th August, a team of people from Norfolk charity The Papillon Project will be paddling 27 miles (43.5 km) along the Norfolk Broads from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, in a raft hand-built from repurposed (upcycled) materials in order to raise £10,000 to support the charitable work of the charity in Great Yarmouth schools come September 2023.

DAY 1: (17th August) Norwich to Brundall (8 miles in 10.5 hours)

DAY 2: (18th August) Brundall to Cantley

DAY 3: (19th August) Cantley to Burgh Castle

DAY 4: (20th August) Burgh Castle to Great Yarmouth

This fundraiser, coined 'The Pap Leeky Expedition', is inspired by the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who, along with his team, successfully crossed the entire Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Polynesian islands on a raft to prove that people from South America could have made the journey hundreds of years ago.

Even the name of our charity's 'Papillon', which is inspired by the incredible story and subquent films of the same name, is linked to the extraordinary stories of adventure by Henri Charrière 'aka Papillon' who escaped from the infamous 'Devils Island' in French Guiana on an improvised raft made using sacks of coconuts!

Our own raft Pap (from Papillon) Leeky (after the humble vegetable, and hopefully not leaky!), along with a crew of six people, will leave from Norwich Yacht Station on the morning of 17th August and aim to arrive at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station in the early evening of Sunday 20th August. The Pap Leeky raft will be stopping at Brundall, Cantley, Reedham and Burgh Castle before making the final journey across Breydon Water to Great Yarmouth.

We’re 100% working with nature throughout the entire voyage as we will be following the tidal flow towards Great Yarmouth. Our safety boat, which will be accompanying us (kindly loaned by Marine Power Ltd) has an outboard motor the helps collect microplastics in the water itself.

In April 2023, we conducted our first 'proof of concept' trial (please see below) with our prototype 'Pap Leeky' improvised raft. Overall, we are very happy with how the raft performed on the water and the acting crew managed just over one mile in about an hour. It's certainly going to be no easier voyage to travel the 27 miles from Norwich to Great Yarmouth!

In July 2023, we conducted a final proof of concept trial at Cantley on the Norfolk Broads and we certainly now feel very prepared for the real voyage in August.

We are working closely with the Broads Authority who have approved our fundraiser in August and have been guiding us with our preparations. We are very grateful for their continued support and advice with making our event possible. We are also incredibly lucky to have other organisations supporting us with lending us equipment for the voyage.

Who are we?

We believe, as a charity, that every child should look forward to a shared and sustainable future. Since launching in September 2019, The Papillon Project (registered charity no. 1189383) has worked with over 35 secondary schools and further education facilities across Norfolk creating local, community-based school allotments to realise that dream.

Through building school allotments, we strive to create permanent places of inspirational learning, where future generations can learn about the world they live in, its beauty and natural resources, and how to live and eat sustainably.

We work with young people to build outdoor spaces for refuge and reflection, to learn practical skills and connect with the natural world, and to build a sense of community through shared responsibility.

Why paddle 27 miles on an improvised raft?

We are taking to the waterways in Norfolk, where rising sea-levels due to climate change and global warming mean our low-lying land is at great risk of regular flooding and coastal erosion. According to predictions by Climate Central, Great Yarmouth and the beautiful Norfolk Broads will sit below the annual flood level by 2030 - that's just seven years away.

Across the world, low-lying countries and particularly island nations and their people and land are at extreme risk of submergence, or have experienced unprecedented flooding that can be directly linked to global warming and the melting of glaciers. The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, highlighted the urgency of slowing climate change for low-lying nations at COP27 in November 2022:

For those who have eyes to see, for those who have ears to listen, and for those who have a heart to feel: 1.5 C is what we need to survive, 2 C is a death sentence [...] And we have come here to say: Try harder. Try harder because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet, need our actions now - not next year, not in the next decade.

Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind - IPCC report

Above: Flooding in Pakistan, the kind of extreme weather events which the IPCC says is the result of climate change. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Why does that matter to us?

In every aspect of our charitable work we carefully consider the environmental impact of the materials we use and the decisions we make. All our allotment sites are built and developed using mainly recycled, reclaimed and upcycled materials.

Cultivating food, we understand the value of fresh water, our dependency on it and our need to preserve this invaluable resource. But our actions today are directly shaping our lives tomorrow; we cannot afford to lose land to the very thing that helps it grow. We need to take steps in everything we do to minimise and prevent the impacts of climate change, living locally and more sustainably.

Where's the money going?

Come September 2023, The Papillon Project is excited to begin working in Great Yarmouth for the first time. We are hoping to raise £10,000 to help fund charity staff who will be facilitating the creation of allotment projects at three schools in the Great Yarmouth area (Caister Academy, Cliff Park Academy and East Norfolk Sixth Form College). Funds raised will go directly to supporting these schools long term. With your help, our charity can begin these inspirational sustainability projects in the Great Yarmouth area and work to future proof for many years to come. Please help us to to educate and equip the next generation with the tools and knowledge to live within our means, responsibly and sustainably. Help us to also help young people feel more confident about themselves and their futures too.

Above: Pap Leeky featuring in the Great Yarmouth Mercury, 11th August.

Above: Some of the crew of Pap Leeky after crossing the treacherous Breydon Water (see below) to get to Great Yarmouth (the final destination), August 20th 2023.

About the charity

The Papillon Project

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RCN 1189383
The Papillon Project is an educational charity that promotes sustainable living and environmental awareness amongst young people. We work with secondary schools and sixth-form colleges in Norfolk to inspire young people to grow food for themselves and their local community. Our mission is to inspire the next generation to connect with the natural world and create a greener, more sustainable future.

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