Friends to make waves for RAFA charity during Caledonian Canal Challenge

The Mail's Mark Thompson is among those taking part in a coast-to-coast canoe challenge for the RAF Association
The Mail's Mark Thompson is among those taking part in a coast-to-coast canoe challenge for the RAF Association

A TEAM of intrepid fundraisers are ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime in memory of a much-loved friend.

The Hartlepool Mail’s Mark Thompson will be one of nine men leaving the North East tomorrow to canoe from coast-to-coast across Scotland, crossing lochs and paddling down canals during their 60-mile adventure.

Their efforts are all in aid of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) charity and will raise money in the name of Jamie Blagg.

Jamie, 19 and from Middlesbrough, died from a stomach infection in June 2005, just days after being told his leukaemia was in remission. He was training at RAF Brize Norton when he fell ill.

Mark, 31, said: “It’s going to be a massive challenge. Each year we raise the bar for Jamie and we are determined to do it for him.”

The team are being led by staff from Carlton Outdoor Education Centre, which is managed by Hartlepool Borough Council, and have been supported by the Coulby Farm pub, George Bolam Butchers, Lingfield Ash Post Office, Anthony Wedlake and Ste Mason Fruit and Veg.

Mark Thompson is taking part in a coast-to-coast canoe challenge for the RAF Association

Mark Thompson is taking part in a coast-to-coast canoe challenge for the RAF Association

Mark, who lives in Hartlepool’s Bishop Cuthbert estate, added: “Each one of the lads is forking out more than £300 to do this and taking holidays from work. It is a huge effort by them all.

“We’re still looking for people to support us during future events and we are of course wanting as many people to donate as possible for this fantastic cause.”

They have already raised more than £3,500 and are urging more people to support them by clicking here