AN Afghan veteran from Huddersfield has flown to Canada to raise cash for injured troops in a river race.
Lance Cpl Stephen Handley, 27, is part of a team from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, who are taking on the Yukon River Quest.
The six-man team is to canoe down the 444 miles of the river – and hope to raise £5,000 to support injured comrades.
Lance Cpl Handley, of Salendine Nook, has previously served in Afghanistan on two tours.
The troops from Colchester-based 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, including soldiers injured on operations in Afghanistan, are competing in the four-day canoe race down the Yukon River.
The race, which starts on Wednesday, will challenge the endurance of the three two-man kayak teams as they battle the river’s rapids through countryside that is home to grizzly bears.
The team, which is sponsored by Tees Financial and is raising money for The Parachute Regiment Afghanistan Trust, did a final training session on the tranquil waters of the River Stour at Dedham.
Wounded heroes include Sgt Allan Jackson and Pte Callum Urquhart, both of whom were seriously injured during 3 PARA’s last tour of Afghanistan in 2010-11.
Keen kayaker Captain Paul Billings was inspired to put a team into the race after taking part in the Devizes to Westminster Race, a 125-mile event on the River Thames.
“This is the next level of challenge up. We’ve been training for three months on the River Stour, including 14-hour paddles through the night. The river may not replicate conditions on the Yukon but it’s nearby and convenient to fit around our work commitments.”
Lance Cpl Handley said: “The event is all about mental endurance and keeping yourself motivated to paddle as your body starts to seize up. It’ll be a great challenge for all.
“The race goes from Whitehorse to Dawson City in western Canada. We have four days to complete the race but hope to do it in less.
“We are aiming to raise £5,000 for the Afghanistan trust which supports paratroopers injured in Afghanistan and their families.”
To support the team log on to . https://www.justgiving.com/3PARA-YUKON