Heroes On The Water

by David Proudfoot

Heroes On The Water UK (HOW UK) is a charity that provides Kayak Angling to our wounded military and members of the public who have suffered whilst carrying out a public duty. They provide physical and therapeutic rehabilitation to help societies heroes regain freedom and confidence.

Heroes On The Water logoTheir services are provided free to all participants and with no Government support they rely on support and donations from the general public and sponsors to survive.

It was back in 2010 that Paul Fennell, Martin Hurst and Dave Morris went to the USA to fish the huge Jacksonville Classic kayak fishing competition. During the prize giving Jim Dolan the US founder of Heroes On The Water (HOW) gave a fundraising presentation highlighting the charity’s work with wounded soldiers. For Paul, as an ex-serviceman of 12 years, this struck a chord but unfortunately he wasn’t in a position to do anything about it until 2013. He was presented a one off chance to leave the corporate world and devote his full attention to launching HOW in the UK.

In April the board of Trustees was formed, Governing Documents signed and the charity is now moving on at a great pace. In less than 6 months Charity Commission standards have been exceeded to allow registration application and regular sessions are being held for our UK heroes.

Heroes On The Water kayak instruction

The Charity have already helped several injured Service personnel on the road to recovery as they introduce them to kayak angling in freshwater and at sea.

Capt Luke Sinnott Royal Engineers, “The moment I launched on to the water all my stresses just disappeared……”

Royal Marine Martin Payne, “This isn’t a just fishing, this is therapy…….. I can no longer play football with my boys but HOW has given me the ability to fully participate with them again.”

HOW instruct and assist their clients with a customised, therapeutic experience leading to the Sea Kayak Competency Course using the HOW specialist sit on top kayaks. The program is not a one off event but is designed to operate over the longer term, providing ease of participation and adaption for special needs.

When asked why what Heroes on the Water does is so effective… Dr. John Hart at the Center for Brain Health, Dallas, offered some insight:

  • we offer a safe and relaxed atmosphere.
  • being on the water strongly impacts all five senses and gives folks with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury a positive memory to override the bad memories and nightmares.
  • the kayak is an effective tool and can be mastered in a few minutes.
  • the individual on the water by themselves helps restore a sense of control.

Any member of the Services who has been diagnosed and treated can sign up with HOW and receive their highly rated and specialised assistance. If you’d like to know more or can help with fundraising please visit HOW’s informative website for more information.

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