Professor's kayak challenge to raise money for children's brain tumour research

21 Mar 2012 19:33:42.157

Hurtling along the Thames in the dead of night is not everyone’s idea of a good time. But that’s exactly what Professor Kevin Shakesheff is doing to raise money for Children’s Brain Tumour Research (CBTR).

Kevin, 42, will be kayaking non-stop for 125 miles from Devizes to Westminster Bridge — the longest continuous kayak race in the world — to raise funds for CBTR

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Joining Kevin in his challenge is fellow alumnus David Bache, who he met while studying Pharmacy in the late 1980s. And until 10 months ago, neither of them had stepped foot in a kayak. The pair are now kayaking more than 80 miles a week ahead of the Easter weekend event – and mainly at night.

Learning to kayak

Kevin said: “We’re worried about the night time. Not only is the kayak wobbly, but at night it is difficult to balance because you can’t see the water and you lose your natural balance because you’re unable to see the horizon.

“There have been lots of bad experiences while training, particularly falling in when it is absolutely freezing cold. We’ve had quite a mild winter but there were times in January and February when the canal got really close to freezing over – and we fell in a lot.”

The course includes 78 portages where the kayakers have to carry their vessels for a combined total of 13 miles – in addition to the 125 mile course. The challenge dates back over 60 years, involves hundreds of kayakers and canoeists, and should take around 24-hours to complete.

Children’s Brain Tumour Research

Every year around 450 children in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour and survival rates are among the lowest in Europe. The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre works to improve diagnosis and treatment, as well as raising awareness of brain tumours.

Kevin said: “Because David and I are pharmacists, we wanted to do something that’s in part based on drug treatment. We have a fantastic clinical and research centre at the QMC doing work that’s leading to better drug treatment, major clinical trials, research for diagnosis, and treatment of brain tumours – and we wanted to support that.

“As an alum, I am always keen to help the University – particularly in this area where donations can have an immediate effect on clinical trials and new therapies.”

Children’s Brain Tumour Research is a key priority of Nottingham: The Impact Campaign, which is the biggest ever fundraising initiative to deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.

The intrepid kayakers have set up a just giving page for donations at:


More information Fraser Wilson, Communications Officer, Communications, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 846 6691,

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011

as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011, a league table of the most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit:

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Award for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research on global food security. More news from the University at:

Story credits

Professor Kevin Shakesheff, Head of the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5101,

Fraser Wilson - Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 6691 Location: University Park

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