Mark to kayak across Ireland for LIVES cause

A Ruskington man vows his third and final canoe charity challenge will be his last when he bids to kayak solo across Ireland in aid of LIVES first reponders.

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The 200km coast-to -route will see self-employed Mark Hennis paddle a kayak through seven counties from Dublin to Limerick, via the Grand Canal (70 miles), River Shannon and the 24-mile Lough Derg - the third largest loch in Ireland.

Previously Mark, 51, has paddled with friends across England and Scotland, raising £10,000 for LIVES and he says this is the last such challenge on the British Isles he can do. They had enough spare cash last time to buy a defibrillator for the village as well.

Mark said: “LIVES are first on the scene in 78 per cent of all emergency call outs releasing up to 1,200 ambulances to be re-deployed an essential service in a rural county such as ours.”

But for this latest challeng, he said: “I couldn’t find anyone daft enough or fit enough to do it with me this time.”

He expects it to take him nine days to complete, from today (Wednesday April 13), and he has his P&O ferry ticket booked so he cannot afford to miss it!

His support driver will be Jim McClory, who was due to drive him last time across Scotland but had to drop out at late notice because of catching covid. Jim will pick him up at the end of each day to take him back to a hotel.

Mark has bought himself a new kayak from Ebay for the trip, naming it the Ruskington Rover. “The one I used for Scotland was more like an ironing board and I will need something with a bit more protection,” he said.

The canoe he used in the first trip has been donated and turned into a flower bed outside the Shoulder of Mutton pub.

He explained: “I have been doing some training for six weeks, paddling 20-plus miles down the Witham or the Foss Dyke Navigation. I need to be doing over 20 miles a day to get there.”

Mark is hoping for good weather when he reaches Lough Derg. “It is eight miles wide in places and makes Loch Ness look tiny in comparison,” he said. “The only other person I have found who has done this route says it is a lot more remote than the other routes I have done.

“I will be going with the flow of the river but the loch could be good or bad.”

To kick things off, Mark is getting a video call of support from the GB squad at the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands, as Ruskington brothers Dave and Antony Morris are in the team. Mark will return the favour sending them a video from Ireland before they start competing. They have their opening ceremony on April 16.

Mark also appreciated all the local businesses showing support for him this year. The Shoulder of Mutton pub is donating proceeds from its weekly quiz, raffle and bingo in April and the Black Bull Pub is giving £1 and £2.50 donations from every pizza sold during April.

He also thanked Ruskington Body Shop for logistics support during training.

l To donate directly to LIVES for this event go to: or message Mark with a pledge to be paid on completion via