Northampton brother and sister take on canoe challenge to help hospice caring for their sister

L to R Thomas, Andrew and Ross, who are taking part in the Canoe Challenge NNL-140725-143600001
L to R Thomas, Andrew and Ross, who are taking part in the Canoe Challenge NNL-140725-143600001

A brother and sister from Northampton will canoe 50km along the River Thames to raise money for the hospice that is caring for their sister.

Thomas Tinant, 13, and Lara, 16, are raising money for Helen and Douglas House in Oxford, which is currently treating 14-year-old Lucy, who suffers from an undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease.

They will join other teenagers setting off from Oxford on Wednesday, July 30 and finish at Pangbourne in Berkshire three days later on Friday, August 1. The group will pitch their tents overnight at local campsites.

The Riverside Centre at Donnington Bridge are providing a 12-person canoe and instructor and the youngsters will be accompanied by Helen House sibling workers. All the camping equipment is being supplied by Oxfordshire County Council, who run Duke of Edinburgh programmes.

Laura Woodward, siblings team leader at Helen & Douglas House, said; ‘We run “The Elephant Club” for siblings to meet other young people who have similar experiences. They all know what it’s like to have a brother or sister who spends long periods in hospital, or comes to a hospice and the impact having a disabled brother or sister can have on family life. The club gives them space to express their feelings and to learn more about their sibling’s condition.

“The canoe challenge is a great opportunity to spend time together and the siblings wanted something that required team effort. They had all done some kayaking or canoeing with us before and it was their idea to turn the challenge into a fundraiser for the charity. Lots of them have talked about wanting to give something back to Helen & Douglas House and that has been really positive, especially for the three young people whose brothers and sisters have passed away. They are almost doing the challenge in memory of their sibling.”

Thomas, Lucy’s brother, said: “Lucy got epilepsy when she was about seven years old and she now needs 24-hour care. When she came to Helen House in October 2013, they gave us loads of support and it’s really helpful. I’m doing this challenge along with others, as we wanted to give something back to Helen House after all they’ve done for us.

“The Elephant Club is really good because you get to meet other people who are in the same situation as you and people who have had siblings who have passed away. You get to talk to them and they say how it feels and how you get over it and what it’s like.”

If you would like to support the canoe challenge go to their Just Giving page at