Kayak Challenge Team Members Stephen Happe, Liam Anthony Griffin and David Feehan
A team of kayakers mostly from Kilkenny are set to depart from the coast of Wexford and set sail for St David’s Head in Wales, in four single sea-kayaks - all in aid of the suicide prevention charity ‘3T’s’ Turn The Tide of Suicide.
The amateur kayak team is made up of a group of friends and members of Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club. They include local business owner Liam Anthony Griffin, and Irish Defence Force members Private Stephan Happe, Signalman Araon Kearney and Private David Feehan.
Liam Anthony Griffin is a dedicated sea and river kayaker and has been practicing the sport since his teens, commenting on the upcoming challenge.
“We are a group of amateur kayakers and we wanted to undertake a team challenge as we often train together, this idea came up and we decided to undertake the challenge while we also felt it was very important to raise awareness and funds for the suicide prevention charity," he said.
"The crossing will most definitely prove a challenge, we hope that the weather conditions will be good but we will also be prepared for all eventualities.”
Private Stephen Happe from Kilkenny has been kayaking for over 18 years. He is a member of the Irish Army and is based in the Stephen’s Barracks Kilkenny.
He is also the Training and Development Officer at the Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club and also for the Irish Defence Forces Kayak Club. Commenting on the challenge and the charity selection.
“We are excited to undertake this challenge but the charity selection was also something very important to us," he said.
"We are at the age where at some point in our lives each of us has been impacted by suicide, it is all too frequent, so we felt very strongly that raising not only money but also suicide prevention awareness was very important.”
Private David Feehan is a member of the Irish Army with the last 10 years; he is based at the Irish Army Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny and is also secretary for the Defence Forces Kayak Club. Though David has been kayaking with over 10 years he only took up sea kayaking within the last 2 months and this is his first kayak challenge.
Signalman Aaron Kearney is also a member of the Irish Army, based in Collins Barracks in Cork. He says that Liam Anthony Griffin came up with the idea of undertaking a kayak challenge; the concept of trying something a little bit different from the 'norm' really appealed to him and after that, it was just a matter of settling on a plan.
“Getting the other team members of Steve and Dave involved in order to add some more experience and a bigger team for both support and training cemented the entire plan," he says.
The four kayakers have been training for the last number of months and have undertaken a series of training exercises and challenges off the Irish coast in order to prepare for the crossing, and on July 8th they intend to depart from the Wexford coast at dawn after which it will take at least 13 hours to complete the 100km kayak challenge.
They have also been undertaking a series of training challenges and mentoring with the global adventure kayaker Mick O’Meara, and have completed navigational training with Dermot Greer of Sailing Ireland. Boat owner and skipper Pascal Ryan and Chef Derry Clarke are kindly providing and manning their support boat for the challenge on July 8.
3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide) is a registered charity in Ireland founded in 2003 to raise awareness of the issue of suicide and to raise funds to help prevent future deaths by Suicide through dedicated research, intervention and support. 3Ts receive no Government funding but rely on their own fundraising activities and those of its supporters, both private and corporate.
100% of proceeds raised are being donated directly to the registered charity 3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide).