A NEILSTON man and a group of people inspired by his idea to paddleboard the same distance as crossing the English Channel have completed their challenge.

Malcolm Briggs, who has been a heart failure patient for the last two years after contracting myocarditis, sparked the bid after deciding to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Last week, the 64-year-old and almost 40 others paddled from the Falkirk Wheel to Speirs Wharf, in Glasgow on the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The mammoth effort which was organised in collaboration with Glasgow Paddleboarders Co, a water skills academy, saw participants travel just shy of 24 miles.

“Some of the guys did the whole route in seven hours because they are pro paddlers and there was a bit of race between them to see who could get there first,” Malcolm told the Barrhead News.

“I took 11 hours, which included rest, so just over nine hours of solid paddling, and there were some behind me who took about 12 hours.

“I had never paddled more than 10 miles so I more than doubled that but when you are with a group of people with a common aim, you are all literally all in the same boat. 

“We were helping each other along and just trying to get miles to fly by by talking and enjoying the views. We saw loads of wildlife so it was like a nature trip as well as a fundraising paddle.”

Some of those who finished first even whizzed back to Falkirk for a go on the wheel.

It believed the event has raised more than £2,000, more than doubling the initial fundraising target and there are hopes it could spark an annual event at different locations with paddleboarders travelling a similar distance.

For Malcolm, however, the most important thing was raising funds for BHF and hopefully inspiring others. 

“If we have inspired just one heart failure patient or someone dealing with heart issues to go and do something wouldn’t have done before then that’s a victory,” Malcolm explained. “That for me is the whole reason for doing the event. 

“Just to inspire people suffering with heart issues to do what they can no matter how big or small is it is, to go and get moving and live a bit more normally.”

James Jopling, head of BHF Scotland, added: “We are so grateful that Malcom and the Glasgow Paddleboarders team chose to support BHF Scotland for this incredible challenge. 

“The money they have raised will help fund our vital research to improve the lives of people living with heart and circulatory diseases.” 

“In Glasgow alone we are funding nearly £22m of research ensuring we make progress to address one of the leading causes of death in Scotland.

 “Since we were established 60 years ago, our research and campaigning have contributed to the annual number of people dying from heart and circulatory conditions falling by half. This is something we can be extremely proud of. 

“But we want to do more and with the help of wonderful supporters like Malcolm, we are determined to do so for the people of Glasgow and beyond.”