AN INTREPID team will launch a bid to tackle 100 miles today (Thursday) – by canoe. Members – many of whom are amateurs – are putting themselves on the line for well-loved Stow-on-the-Wold Primary.

Navigating the notoriously fast-flowing River Wye – one of Britain’s longest rivers - is a team put together and led by school governor Mike Clarke.

The goal is to raise at least £5,000 towards a £15,000 project to refurbish the 117-pupil school’s play area.

Seven men – most current and past school parents - who include a Stow town councillor and members of Sudeley Masonic Lodge, could have a choppy challenge on their hands.

After heavy rain, the Wye can rise over 30cm an hour which only adds to its dangers.

“We are not elite athletes – to be honest – we are not athletes - and we anticipate this being a challenge being worthy of everyone’s support,” said self-employed Mr Clarke.

The four-day trial is from Glasbury, north of the Brecon Beacons National Park, down to Chepstow where the Wye joins the River Severn.

“We all share the aim of raising as much money as possible to support the school,” said Mr Clarke, 48.

“It’s a fantastic little school and several team members’ children have been, or are still, attending it. All the children loved this school, thrived and the older ones still speak fondly of their primary years.

"But, like so many smaller schools, it relies on support from parents, friends and the local community so it can continue to provide a safe and fun environment in which children can learn and play.”

The vital space, originally built through local fundraising, desperately needs updating. “We all know the importance of children playing to create balance with all the hard academic work they do even at such a young age” said Mr Clarke.

“Playing is consistently used as a form of learning as well. Having a safe, good quality playground, that stimulates children’s imagination and creativity, is essential. And we all know encouraging children to play outside in the fresh air, away from technology, is of the greatest importance.”

Mr Clarke's second daughter, Maxine, is in her final year at Stow Primary following her sister Stella. Their dad feels his whole family has found friends and a ‘real home’ through its community. “I decided to put this trip together to thank headteacher Rebecca Scutt and the whole school community for making us so welcome and to leave ‘with a big bang’, he explained.

The school community has raised £5,000 itself so far. The canoe team will camp along the way with family providing support and transporting equipment.

Joining Mr Clarke is school governor Nigel Harrison, whose son Scott was at Stow Primary until last year; James Stubbs, whose daughter Alice was at school with Stella and has younger daughter, Jess, still there; town councillor Simon Clarke, whose three children James, Ben, and Gabby, all went through Stow; Ryan Dyer, Sudeley Castle Lodge member and his friend Gary Wilks; and Mike’s son Ben Beaumont.

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