Darren Parkin

Avon Ring Solo Canoe Challenge

Fundraising for Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1089464, SC041666, 1103 & 247
We pioneer life-saving cancer research to help us beat cancer


In 2020 - the year we all discovered a new difficulty level in the game of life - my wife's wonderful parents received unimaginable news.

Within the space of 24 hours, they were both told they had cancer. 

My wife Jeanette and I, together with this tight-knit family, have been on a rollercoaster of emotion watching her parents - June and William - navigate the hell of the last 12 months. They have both battled this illness and countless medical procedures with immense dignity and courage.

At every twist and turn of this chapter of their lives they have not once sought admiration for their fortitude. Instead, they have heaped praise upon the incredible staff of the magnificent NHS who have cared for them on every step of their journey.

Everyone around them - including June and William themselves - have contributed to helping cancer charities, either by donating, organising an event, or taking part in a challenge.

Now, it's my turn.

In the early hours of Friday June 18, as dawn breaks over Stratford-upon-Avon, I shall embark on a record-setting expedition that has never been completed before: a solo, self-sufficient navigation of the Avon Ring by canoe.

While 109 miles in a canoe is an endurance feat in itself, this challenge comes with many difficulties- 129 locks for starters. And that means heaving the 16ft canoe and three bags of gear in and out of the water to get around these obstacles

This particular waterway is home to some of the UK's longest tunnels, including the remarkable 1.6 mile Wast Hills Tunnel... that's 30 minutes of paddling in the pitch black.

Each day, I'll be heading off at sunrise and making camp at last light in order to maximise my daylight time on the water - pitching my tent or hanging from a hammock in the trees by the water.

This description barely scratches the surface of the hardship this endurance challenge will bring. And, because no one has done this before, I can only imagine – and attempt to prepare for - what unknown tests await.

I expect there will be ample opportunities for me to sink to my knees in pain ask why I thought this might be a good idea. But those are the difficult memories to come. And, each time I find I have allowed myself to drift into that dark place I shall draw strength from the knowledge that two of the most beloved people I have ever held dear in my heart have known what it is really like to find the strength to carry on.

I'm doing this for June and William. 

I'm doing this for the brilliant staff of the NHS, to provide the funds that will arm them with the future knowledge they need to beat this horrible disease. 

I'm doing this for Cancer Research.

Please help them, by supporting my challenge.

About the charity

Cancer Research UK

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1089464, SC041666, 1103 & 247
We‘re the world‘s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving and improving lives through research. We fund research into the prevention, detection and treatment of more than 200 types of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.

Donation summary

Total raised
+ £6.25 Gift Aid
Online donations
Offline donations

* Charities pay a small fee for our service. Find out how much it is and what we do for it.