Charity champion John's epic canal kayak

A former policeman who overcame a heart attack and depression is now embarking on his latest challenge '“ kayaking from London to Burnley.
John Wilson who is kayaking from London to BurnleyJohn Wilson who is kayaking from London to Burnley
John Wilson who is kayaking from London to Burnley

John Wilson (56) will negotiate some of the nation’s most famous canals as he bids to raise money and awareness for his new employers, the PTSD999 charity.

The epic challenge follows hot on the heels of John’s previous feat when he cycled from Burnley to Corfu for British Heart Foundation.

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He said: “The Corfu cycle was such a big buzz I wanted to do something similar for PTSD999. The charity looks after emergency service workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, something very close to my heart. I plan to kayak 30 miles a day and will be camping at night wherever I can. I hope to get to Burnley at the end of the month. It’s certainly going to be tough. The Grand Union Canal alone has 126 locks.”

John’s route will take in some of the most famous waterways in the country including the Grand Union Canal, Shropshire Union, Manchester Ship Canal and Bridgewater before ending on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

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• Former soldier and police officer John had to be airlifted to hospital by the RAF in 2009 after collapsing on Scafell Pike in the Lake District. The shock sent the father-of-four into a spiral of depression, but help from the British Heart Foundation and Healthy Lifestyles’ team at Burnley’s St Peter’s Centre, led to John’s new lease of life.

John believes his heart attack was triggered by stress. In 2008 he was knocked unconscious in an attack at London’s Victoria Station while serving in the British Transport Police. The remarkable man moved to Burnley in 2009 after meeting wife Shirley