Friends face spiders and enclosed spaces during their 10-mile pedalo canal challenge in aid of a Warwick-based charity

Two friends have completed a 10-mile pedalo challenge on a canal in aid of a Warwick-based charity

Alex Pearson, from Stratford, and Emma Brayne, from Warwick, navigated The Grand Union Canal with tunnels and locks as part of their challenge on June 15, to raise money for children’s charity Molly Ollys.

The pair, who were supported by Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, pedalled between The View at Wootton Wawen and Hatton, where Molly’s family live.

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They were joined on their journey by Alex’s canine companions Archie and Chester.

Emma Brayne and Alex Pearson with by Alex’s dogs Archie and Chester setting off at Wootten Wawen. Photo supplied

Along their journey, they only stopped for a quick drink and snack at Fleur de Lys in Lowsonford.

Alex said: “We found it harder this year. We also got very wet in Shrewley Tunnel. It was very dark, foggy and scary in there.

"We brushed against the side of the tunnel and loads of spiders fell in the boat and neither of us like spiders so we had to come out of the boat and brush them off.

“The dogs were very well behaved but Archie did go in the water and had a good swim. I’m very proud and very tired. It’s amazing what we can do.

Emma Brayne and Alex Pearson after they completed their challenged. Photo supplied

"We had a day of pain when children suffer a lot more. This is nothing compared to what children and families have to go through and that’s the key part.

“I never train. I just wing it. But pedalling down the canal is not something you can really train for.”

Emma added: “People do say we’re completely barmy but we do it all with love and pride.

“The tunnel was a really big concern for me because one of my fears is enclosed dark spaces so when you enter the tunnel you can see the end but it’s actually an illusion because it’s quite long.

The pair navigating locks along the canal. Photo supplied

"It was like raining inside so it was real achievement of mine to get through that right at the end.

“It was harder this year because it was longer distance and even though we didn’t have as many locks, they were spaced out and not in our favour.

“But it was really lovely to go through all the little villages and see all the places we don’t normally see.

“We hit a wall at one point and it took some time to get our momentum again but we reminded ourselves about why we’re doing this and that really pushed us at the end.

Emma Brayne and Alex Pearson during their challenge. Photo supplied

“We’re planning to do something again next year but not involving a pedalo this time. We’re going to think of something even more unique.”

The end of the challenge was marked by a release of 20 butterflies outside Hatton Café.

The fundraiser also took place on a hugely significant date for the charity – the anniversary of eight-year-old Molly Ollerenshaw’s death. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the charity.

Molly Ollys emotionally supports children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. It does that through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.

Rachel Ollerenshaw, founder of Molly Ollys at the butterfly release at the end of the challenge outside the Hatton Cafe on the canal. Photo supplied
Emma and Alex after navigating the Shrewley tunnel. Photo supplied