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Tom Varcoe avatar
Tom Varcoe

Tom Varcoe's Fundraising Page

Fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

10 %
raised of £5,000 target
by 3 supporters
  • Event: Cornwall solo kayak circumnavigation

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

We fund life-saving research to help cancer patients everywhere.

Charity Registration No. 1095197


Thank you for visiting my page.

In November 2006, after a quiet day at the St Austell Brewery beer festival (highly recommended if you've never been) word has it that I fell off a table at the King of Prussia Inn on Fowey town quay, while giving belly dancing lessons.

The following day I awoke with a slight headache and what appeared to be the merest hint of blood in my pee. It had cleared up by lunchtime so I put it down to a bad landing from the table and almost didn't go to the doctor to get it checked. Luckily I did.

I was sent to Truro Hospital where an ultrasound and scan revealed a tumour in my bladder and another on my left kidney which was considerably larger than the kidney itself. I was told that the tumour in my bladder had spread from the kidney and that I had about twelve to eighteen months to live.

You can imagine my relief when further tests at the Royal Marsden showed that both tumours were primary and operable. Two operations later and minus a kidney I was given a clean bill of health and this is still the case.

My life is now simpler, much less stressful and it's true that after serious illness every day seems more precious.

So now I have contacted you to tell you about my planned trip to seek sponsorship for any of the following:

1. The Royal Marsden, who sorted me out and for which donations can be made on this page,

2. Macmillan Cancer who do such a good job for those less fortunate than me (and for which my mum raised funds over many years) for which donations can be made on my other identical page at  

3. For a bright, brave, local boy called Archie, aged two, who is recovering from the trauma of meningitis B and septicaemia which necessitated the amputation of his fingers and legs. He still has to find out that as he grows, to do many things that come naturally to other children of his age will be a real challenge. The money given will go towards prosthetic legs which need to be changed regularly as he grows. Donations for Archie can be made by following the instructions on his website at and please mention that you came to hear about him here.

It’s up to you which cause to support if you decide to help.

The plan is to paddle by kayak around the entire coast of Cornwall from the Tamar to Morwenstow via the Isles of Scilly, a distance of 250 miles, solo and unsupported with the exception of the Isles of Scilly leg for which I will have a support boat. Weather permitting, I hope to cover the distance in less than three weeks paddling time.

For those who are interested or think me even more irresponsible than before my illness, the details of my kayak and equipment are:

The boat - P&H Scorpio Expedition Custom Sea Kayak, length 17ft, width 22ins, weight 55lbs (unladen).

Equipment - Personal Satellite locator (EPIRB), GPS, VHF radio, flares, compass, pump, spare paddles, personal buoyancy aid with integral water container, waterproof sleeping bag, energy rations and drinks and (importantly) a waterproof ipod nano and headphones for music and audio books. Wherever possible I shall find a bed for the night rather than camping, in order to keep weight on board to a minimum.

My eskimo rolls are nice and crisp (for the uninitiated, the ability to roll the kayak upright after capsize, without getting out, not an Innuit takeaway) and I've been training with Porthpean Outdoors - spring tide overfalls off the Dodman Head, in a storm, in February - brrr. Andy Mitchell (top sail maker) has allowed me to store my kayak by his slip for easy launching in Fowey, Dan Hicks of Polruan and others will be supporting me on the Isles of Scilly leg in his boat Odyssey and to these people I owe my thanks, as well as to my sweet, patient, marvellous, attractive (her words) wife Cecil for putting up with the days spent at sea.

"Yellow Bird" is the name of my kayak after her colour and because I like the song which I recommend you watch the Mills Bros perform by clicking on the link on this page.

Thank you so much for reading this far and if you feel like supporting me please give as generously as you can.

I'll let you know how it goes,