A WOKINGHAM kayaker is preparing to make a grand gesture to charity by taking on the hardest canoe race in the world.
Bethan Davies has already smashed her £1,000 target for Meningitis Now, and said she is competing as a way of saying thank you to the charity that helped out when her then nine-month-old daughter Emily nearly died from the disease.
Two years ago, Bethan said that Emily had fallen ill but they weren’t concerned about the initial symptoms.
“She’d had a temperature for a couple of days but it wasn’t dissimilar to what she’d had before so we weren’t that worried,” she recalled. “She had a fever in the night and we were up a few times but when she woke in the morning she was still crying a lot and was quite unwell so we tried to give her some milk and Calpol to calm her down.
“It was at this stage that she started to fit”.
Ms Davies called an ambulance and baby Emily was taken to hospital.
“Lots of doctors descended on her and we were told that they were going to treat her for meningitis,” she added.
“She was put on antibiotics and within a couple of days it was confirmed that it was meningitis.”
Bethan said that the side effects of the treatment Emily received were quite severe, but that they were lucky and after two weeks in hospital she made a complete recovery.
“She’s two-and-a-half years old now and everything’s normal.”
Now Ms Davies is preparing for paddles up in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race. This covers 125 miles and takes place over the Easter weekend.
Although the keen kayaker has been in the water since she was 12, she is pushing herself hard for this event, aiming to come first in the women’s veterans category.
She is currently undertaking a daily training regime, coupled with racing at weekends in order to be match fit and paddle for up to six hours a day.
“I am excited and nervous at the same time,” she said. “It is going to be a real challenge but my poor old husband will be following me for support and my parents will be helping out by looking after Emily.
“It’s going to be a real family effort.”
She has set up a JustGiving page, with funds going to Meningitis Now – and her £1,000 target has already been smashed, thanks to some generous donations.
To add to her funds, log on to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bethan-davies-dw