Warwick man’s tragic death inspires Leamington woman’s marathon fundraising

A Warwick man who tragically died on a canoeing trip in Wales last month will be remembered by a Leamington woman as she takes on the London Marathon.
Tessa Lukehurst at last years Christmas Leamington Parkun.Tessa Lukehurst at last years Christmas Leamington Parkun.
Tessa Lukehurst at last years Christmas Leamington Parkun.

Tessa Lukehurst, club coaching coordinator at the Leamington Spa Canoe Club, was with 34-year-old Gareth Lockyer on a canoeing trip to the River Usk at Llangynidr, near Crickhowell, when he went missing on February 9. His body was found by the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team the next day.

Tessa, 54, who is also an event director at Leamington Parkrun and member of the Spa Striders running club, had already gained a place in this year’s London Marathon through a Spa Striders ballot. So she decided to run in Gareth’s memory and raise funds for the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team.

She said: “To say it was upsetting is a massive understatement. I couldn’t sleep for four weeks afterwards.

Gareth Lockyer.Gareth Lockyer.
Gareth Lockyer.

“I have run ten marathons before but it’s always been my aim to run London. I hadn’t intended to run for a charity, but after this happened, it wasn’t a difficult decision to reverse.”

Describing the mountain rescue team as “amazing”, Tessa said: “They were 50 or 60 people out searching the river for the whole afternoon and evening. They are wonderful, courageous and selfless people.”

Villagers in Llangynidr had turned out in droves to help on the day Gareth went missing and they provided tea and refreshments for emergency crews while Tessa and the other canoeists spent the rest of the day waiting for news from the village hall. The team had to suspend searching when it got dark but they resumed the next day.

Although her training has been disrupted due to losing sleep over the past month, Tessa said: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be difficult but it’s really important to me to run this in Gareth’s memory.”

Gareth grew up in the Cotswolds but has lived in the Warwick area for the last six years with his partner Emma and worked as a senior engineer for Alstom in Rugby.

The University of Nottingham graduate was a member of the Scouts, which is where he started canoeing - and five years ago, he joined the Leamington Spa Canoe Club and would go away on kayaking trips around the UK, most often to North Wales and Dartmoor.

Tessa said: “Gareth and I had paddled together for six years. He was a calm and determined paddler who always had an eye on those around him. He had a lovely sense of humour that put people around him at ease. I know that he made a lot of friends in Leamington and Warwick and that he is greatly missed.”

To sponsor Tessa, search for her name at uk.virginmoneygiving.com