VALIANT volunteers have raised nearly £9,000 for Brain Tumour Research following a staggering charity challenge.

The Canoeing For A Cure team were inspired to take on the challenge after Bridgwater police officer Jim Murray, 51, was diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable brain tumour earlier this year.

Jim and his family took in Wayne Byles at the age of 16 after he found himself homeless.

Now 35, Wayne Byles has gone on to become a Staff Sergeant in the army, and wanted to give something back to a man who had been like a father figure to him.

A team of six, which also included Jim's sons Callum and Richard, set off in their Canadian-style canoes from Taunton's French Weir at 4.40am.

They has set themselves the task of paddling 14.5 miles to Bridgwater's Inner Dock, returning to Taunton on foot, carrying the canoes, and the paddling the stretch again to finish at the docks.

SSgt Byles said: "The canoes travelled barely 30 metres before one of them capsized, this wasn’t the start the team had hoped for and dampened morale very early on.

"Thankfully preparations were in place to cover all eventualities.

"After a complete change of clothes and a motivational speech from the support team, the canoe was back in the water and the challenge was well underway."

The team paddled along the canal in complete darkness and made good time, completing the first leg in 4hrs 50 mins.

SSgt Byles said the second leg, carrying the canoes back to Taunton, was the toughest aspect of the challenge.

"The carry was tough with some of the team suffering pain in their feet and lower back, however the local supporters at various locations along the route helped lift spirits massively," he said.

This second leg would take four hours, after which the team rehydrated before setting off the final row, which took 4hrs and 55mins, heading over the finish line after a total of 15 hours.

In total the team had raised an amazing £8,943 at the time of going to press, and with pending donations they were hopeful of reaching the £9,000 mark.

SSgt Byles concluded by saying: "The team would like to thank their supports along the route and those that greeted us on completion of the challenge."

The Canoeing For A Cure team see this as setting the bar, issuing the challenge to other groups to have a go at the endurance challenge and see if they can beat their time and raise money while doing so.

If you would like to donate, visit, and if your team/organisation is interested in taking on the challenge, get in touch via the Canoeing For A Cure Facebook page.