Littlehampton MP praises 'truly heroic' Army veteran for Paddle of Britain
'Truly heroic' is how Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb described Dan Smith's Paddle of Britain after he finished his 910-mile journey in the town.
The Army veteran's extreme challenge, paddling and trekking the length of Great Britain, marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Dan, 39, arrived in Littlehampton Harbour on Saturday, paddling down the River Arun to a warm welcome.
Mr Gibb said: "I think Dan is incredible and we are absolutely delighted to see his inspirational Paddle of Britain challenge finish here in Littlehampton.
"His paddle from the north of Scotland to the south of England over the last 53 days has been a gruelling test of his endurance.
"The support here on the finish line in West Sussex has demonstrated what a truly heroic achievement it is. Huge congratulations to Dan."
Dan has joined the record books by becoming the first person to kayak the full length of Great Britain using inland waterways, from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England.
The average distance covered each day was 17.5 miles, with the highest mileage in a single day recorded on day 23, when Dan clocked up 33 miles between Reading and Windsor. The longest day spent in the kayak involved 13 hours and 45 minutes of paddling.
Dan from Northumberland had always wanted to do a solo challenge for a charity and created the Paddle of Britain to raise more than £25,000 for the Royal British Legion.
A former sergeant in the Royal Artillery, Dan served in the Army for over a decade and he wanted to do something as a thank you to the generation who served in the First World War.
He said: "It was a huge test for me, physically and emotionally. I am so happy to have successfully completed the Paddle of Britain. What an amazing two months it has been. I’ve always liked a challenge but this is definitely one of the toughest things I have ever done. I’m looking forward to putting the kayak away for a little while now."
The Paddle of Britain began in Durness on August 29 and when it finished in Littlehampton, there were family, friends, members of the local kayaking community and a strong turnout from the Royal British Legion to cheer Dan over the finish line.
Once on dry land, Dan said: "Completing the paddle today is one of my proudest achievements. I’d always wanted to take on a unique endurance challenge and with this year marking the landmark 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, I felt passionately that I had found a worthy cause to champion.
"The Paddle of Britain was created to help remember First World War soldiers and to raise as much money as possible for the Royal British Legion, a charity which I value dearly.
"With no surviving veterans left from World War One, it feels more important than ever to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of future generations.
"I hope the Paddle of Britain encourages people to stop and think about that day 100 years ago, but also to spare a thought for the men and women all over the country who have served and are still serving in the armed forces. I also hope that I’ve inspired people to get out there and embark upon their own challenges. I’m very grateful to my friends, colleagues, fellow military veterans, sponsors and all the many incredible people that I have met along the way who cheered me on and supported me by donating to the Royal British Legion."
For information on The Paddle of Britain and to support Dan Smith’s fundraising efforts for the Royal British Legion, visit www.paddleofbritain.com
Simon O’Leary, assistant director of fundraising at the Royal British Legion, said: "We are delighted that Dan has been able to complete this epic challenge to raise money for the Legion.
As a former soldier himself, he is aware that this kind of effort allows us to provide support to veterans, serving personnel and their families when they need it most.
"To have done this in 2018 is particularly significant, however, as we will all be taking time to remember and thank those who lived through the First World War. We are very grateful to Dan - congratulations on a brilliant effort.”