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Old Whitgiftian and professional photographer, Danny Fitzpatrick

Old Whitgiftian, Danny Fitzpatrick, to paddle board down Mekong River for charity.

Old Whitgiftian and professional photographer, Danny Fitzpatrick, has set himself quite a challenge for 2018. The frequent Whitgift event photographer, along with fellow adventurer, Andrew Strachan, will be heading to Laos, in April, to paddle board down the Mekong River to raise money for charity.

The university friends came up with the idea whilst paddle boarding down the Thames River, from source, in 2015. That trip took a week to cover the 346km (215mi.) journey, and involved having to improvise where they bedded down each night. After a slow start in shallow waters they figured out that they needed to up their game in order to finish the challenge within their timeframe.

Danny commented on his Thames experience, “It was essentially my first time on a paddle board. The slow progress on the initial day due to the shallow water, reed beds and fallen trees meant we had plenty of catching up to do. It was a fantastic experience from start to finish though, what with the constantly changing scenery and wildlife along the way. It made me realise that if you just put your head down and focus on the immediate task in front of you, it will happen. Don’t think about the next 24 miles, just focus on the next mile and forget about the rest.”

Their latest expedition will start at Huai Xai, on the northern Thailand/Laos boarder, and their 320km (199mi.) trip down the Mekong River will end at Luang Prabang, in central Laos. They will have 40 degrees Celsius heat, sleeping on river banks, and filtering river water to drink to contend with.

When asked about the upcoming trip, Danny responded, “Initially, I thought the biggest challenge would be the heat - 40 degrees is not a temperature you want to be doing any exercise in, let alone paddling 50km per day. However, now we have managed to find out more about the river, the heat will be the least of our concerns! A 7 knot current with sharp rocks, back flow, whirlpools and unexploded ordinance may be encountered along the way. We are, however, very much looking forward to meeting the locals on our travels. Laos is a very friendly country and I am sure the kids will go crazy when we arrive on paddle boards.”

The charity they are supporting is the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), an NGO who help people in conflict-affected communities rid their land of unexploded landmines and UXO (unexploded ordinance).

With an expected launch date of 8 April, Danny will be posting a photo diary where possible. To keep up-to-date with their progress visit http://dnaadventures.eco/, and to donate to the Mine Advisory Group on behalf of their expedition, click https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-strachan4.

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