Kayaker Noel makes triumphant return

HE endured a terrifying encounter with a basking shark and narrowly dodged a gigantic tanker in the Thames.But nothing could have put Noel Webb off completing his epic 4,000km circumnavigation of the UK mainland in a kayak.

HE endured a terrifying encounter with a basking shark and narrowly dodged a gigantic tanker in the Thames.

But nothing could have put Noel Webb off completing his epic 4,000km circumnavigation of the UK mainland in a kayak.

The 25-year-old became only the 19th person to achieve the courageous challenge on Saturday and one of only a handful to complete it without a support team.

Mr Webb, who lives in Worcester but whose family are from Martlesham, came up with the idea to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust after losing a relative to the condition.

He set off from Shotley Marina on May 5 and spent up to eight hours every day paddling his way around the UK, setting up camp overnight on deserted beaches.

During the challenge, his kayak was shunted by a huge basking shark off the coast of Cornwall and he almost collided with a tanker in the Thames.

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But after arriving back at Shotley on Saturday, he said the whole experience had been worth it.

“It was a little bit tougher than I expected it to be. There are days spent at one mile an hour pushing straight into the winds and convincing yourself what you're doing is sensible. But you get good days with the sun too and it was a fantastic thing to do.

“There were a couple of scary moments. Crossing the Thames I nearly got run over by a tanker and a 25ft basking shark decided to come up and hit the boat.”

Mr Noel, who has been paddling since the age of 11 since his dad bought him his first fibreglass kayak, has raised £6,000 for the charity so far but people are still able to donate through his website www.cfpaddler.co.uk.

He intends to return to the army in January at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst but admits the next couple of months without a paddle in hand will seem a little strange.

“I feel a little lost having been thinking about it for so long, I don't know what to do with myself,” he said.