Oar-same friends grab their paddles

(front-back) Andrew Coles, Mark Hanley and Barry Gilbert, from Harrow, did a sponsered canoe paddle in a homemade canoe from Watford to Thorne to raise money for Sense. Picture: Andrew Roe
(front-back) Andrew Coles, Mark Hanley and Barry Gilbert, from Harrow, did a sponsered canoe paddle in a homemade canoe from Watford to Thorne to raise money for Sense. Picture: Andrew Roe
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A GROUP of oar-some friends have turned to paddle power in a epic charity canoe trip.

Tattoo artist Barry Gilbert, 30, along with his pals Mark Hanley and Andrew Coles, both 27, made the gruelling journey along rivers and canals from Watford to Thorne all in a self-built canoe.

They finished at the Canal Pub, in Thorne, after setting off seven days earlier.

The trio from Harrow raised more than £1,700 for deafblind charity Sense.

They opted for the charity after Andrew’s partner’s sister Maisie Kirkbride, 16, and her family received help from it.

Barry’s sister Kelly Gilbert, of Lock Hill, Thorne, said: “They got quite a lof interest from pubs and cafes on the way so they are sending them pictures of the trip to put them on the walls.

“They did really well bless them. All three were very, very sunburnt and none of them could walk properly.

“They couldn’t put their shoes on, they had swollen hands and they were shattered, but apart from that they’re ok.”

The determined trio had plenty of blisters to show for their efforts and encountered a few difficulties along the way.

Kelly added: “At one point they had a rock that went into the front of the canoe.

“They did have some hairy moments on the River Trent when the boat was rocked about a bit.”

For Barry this wasn’t the first attempt at canoeing down a canal.

In 2009 he attempted a similar challenge canoeing solo from Watford.

However, he only got as far as Milton Keynes after his camping cylinder exploded leaving him with burns and needing to abandon the trip.

People can still sponsor the group following their exploits. Go to www.justgiving.com/sencecharity