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Local hero takes on unique challenge to raise funds for Young Minds Mental Health Charity

IN A BID to address the lack of support available to young people struggling with mental health issues, Carmarthen resident Jon Denyer is gearing up to embark on an extraordinary challenge next year while raising funds for the Young Minds charity. Denyer’s motivation stems from a heartbreaking tragedy that struck his family in 2021, underscoring the urgent need for increased assistance in this area.

The devastating loss of his beloved niece, Kat, at the age of 22 highlighted the insufficiency of available resources for those battling mental health conditions. Recounting Kat’s struggle and the impact it had on their family, Denyer emphasized the importance of timely and accessible help for young individuals facing similar hardships. Unfortunately, due to their rural location, Kat was unable to obtain the support she desperately needed.

Driven by the desire to prevent other families from enduring the same heart-wrenching experience, Denyer has set an ambitious target of £10,000 to be donated directly to Young Minds. The funds raised will go towards providing crucial support that could potentially save a young person’s life when they feel overwhelmed by darkness.

To achieve this goal and honor Kat’s memory, Denyer has conceived a one-of-a-kind endeavor that has never been attempted before. In the summer of 2024, he plans to embark on an unassisted solo paddle of the entire 120km length of the Towy River in a 16ft Canadian open canoe.

Denyer’s choice of the Towy River holds significant personal meaning. It flows through both Kat’s hometown of Llandovery and the town she resided in before her passing, Llandeilo. Additionally, as one of the longest rivers entirely within Wales, it offers the ideal opportunity to undertake an unprecedented challenge while raising awareness for mental health issues.

The Towy River originates on the lower slopes of Crug Gynan in the Cambrian Mountains, meandering southwest towards its basin shared with the Teifi and Gwendraeth rivers. Finally, it gracefully empties into the Irish Sea after passing through the renowned Pendine Sands, famous for hosting land speed record attempts from 1924 to 1927 at Carmarthen Bay.

The Herald had the opportunity to delve deeper into Denyer’s unique endeavor and gain insights into his preparations. When asked about his training regimen, both physical and mental, Denyer explained that he would primarily train alone, gradually building strength and endurance over the next year. However, he would also receive guidance from experienced canoeists at the Carmarthen Boat Club. Mentally, he intends to study the river meticulously, constructing a mental map of the route and staying focused on his purpose of helping others and expanding available support.

As for his diet, Denyer revealed that he already follows a high-protein, low-carb regimen due to weight training. However, he plans to adapt it to sustain high and long-lasting energy levels, incorporating complex, slow-release carbohydrates and protein. To minimize weight and ensure convenience, he intends to carry dehydrated or freeze-dried food that only requires boiling water to prepare.

Although Denyer anticipates completing the journey in 4 to 5 days, he acknowledges that unpredictable challenges might extend the duration to up to 10 days. Recognizing the inherent risks associated with water-based endeavors, he plans to have standby support from members of his club, as well as coordinate with local water safety teams, including fire and rescue and lifeboats.

Young Minds has responded with enthusiasm and support for Denyer’s noble initiative. They have provided him with an extensive list of suggestions and tips on promoting his fundraiser, establishing funding mechanisms, seeking sponsors, and offering merchandise.

When queried about the biggest challenge he expects to face during his journey, Denyer highlighted the influence of weather on daily paddling. Rain can alter the behavior of the river, while wind affects his paddling technique and the boat’s performance. Additionally, heat can impact water levels and his energy levels, posing risks such as dehydration and heat stroke.

Denyer’s friends and family stand firmly behind him, offering unwavering support as he prepares for this extraordinary feat. He plans to document his progress through daily video blogs, providing updates on his paddling experience, challenges encountered, and positive moments along the way.

With his starting point set at Strata Florida, located approximately a mile upstream from Llyn Brianne Reservoir, Denyer is eager to commence his mission to raise funds and awareness for Young Minds.

As Denyer courageously endeavors to make a difference, it is vital for the community to rally behind him in supporting this noble cause, particularly in these challenging times for our young generation. Denyer emphasizes that all funds raised will be directly allocated to the charity, urging readers to contribute, regardless of the donation amount. Those interested in staying updated on his progress and the confirmed date of the challenge can visit his dedicated Facebook page, provided in the link below.

Jon Denyer’s selfless quest to honor his niece’s memory and transform the lives of young people struggling with mental health issues is an inspiring tale that reminds us of the power of compassion and community action.”

To follow Jon Denyer’s progress throughout the year as he prepares for this challenge please go to his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/people/Kats-Canoe-Challenge/100094468812746/?mibextid=ZbWKwL, or to donate to this worthy cause visit Jon’s GoFundMe page.

Young Minds Trust is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health.

The Trust wants to see a world where no young person feels alone with their mental health, and all young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.

To find out more about who they are, the work they’re doing and what they’re trying to achieve visit https://www.youngminds.org.uk/about-us/