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EEAST paramedic bids for paddleboarding world record

Date: 02 June 2023

Joe Cartwright and David Haze in training ahead of the paddleboarding world record bid

A paramedic at the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) is preparing for a World Record bid on a paddleboard which he hopes will encourage conversations around suicide and highlight the support that is out there for anyone who is struggling.

Joe Cartwright, a senior paramedic and Leading Operations Manager in Luton, will this summer bid to tandem paddleboard 209km down the Thames to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Last year, Joe raised thousands of pounds when he crossed the Channel on a paddle board for suicide prevention charity the OLLIE Foundation.

Joe is taking part in the challenge with paddleboarding legend, David Haze, who heard about his Channel crossing and approached him to get involved. 

Joe said: “David has achieved record after record in the paddleboarding world and he’s a guy I'm hugely inspired by.

“When he invited me to join him on a world record attempt this July, it would have been rude to say no, so I jumped at the chance.

“During his life he has faced his own mental health battles and he and I are both really keen to use this attempt as a catalyst to drive conversation about suicide and spread the word about the amazing support available for those who need it.” 

Joe added: “It’s not going to be easy, learning to paddle with both of us on the board is something we haven’t been able to do a lot of yet. We have to negotiate 44 locks along the way, and for it to be a viable world record attempt, we have to get each one verified with a photo and signature from someone in the vicinity. We also need to use digital tracking to make sure we get an accurate record of our time and the distance we cover which we can then supply to Guinness World records when we finish.”

But this challenge is very different to his last one.  

“Last year, when I crossed the Channel, my family, friends and colleagues raised thousands of pounds for the OLLIE Foundation as a result. This time round, David and I are not doing it to raise money but to increase awareness around normalising taking about suicide, breaking stigmas and preventing One More Life Being Lost which is what the OLLIE Foundation is all about.”

Joe believes that taking on challenges like this is a great way to improve your mental health.

He said: “Our job is not an easy on – whether that’s because of the demand on the service or just the emotive nature of working on the frontline. For me, the solution is to get up and find something to focus on, and if someone on the team is finding things tough, I often suggest finding something to work towards. Whether it’s increasing your steps, taking up a sport or running a marathon, the boost of serotonin you get from something like that really can be a game changer for your mental wellbeing.

“After spending months building up to the last challenge, mentally I found it incredibly difficult when it was over. I, and my family, realised that I need to have something to focus on and this may well be the pattern for me now. I think the key is to find what works for you personally, whether it’s time with friends or physical activity. 

“This is all about the personal challenge. I’m definitely not as fit as I’d like to be to take this on, so I know that mental strength will have a big part to play in getting me through.”

The current world record is the fastest time to travel along the Thames by tandem stand-up paddleboard (SUP) from Letchlade in Gloucestershire to Teddington lock in SurreyThe record stands at 2 days, 9hrs and 20 minutes and was achieved in 2019, but Joe and David have their sights set on smashing it together. 

They will cover the 209 miles in tandem, both paddling on the one board, supported only by Joe’s colleague, Dave Jadidi, who will be acting as a road support vehicle, should the pair require it. 

For the challenge, Joe and David will be using a 17-foot long custom made, inflatable paddleboard which has been supplied for them by Starboard, one of the leading brands in paddleboarding, who are also keen to support suicide prevention ad intervention work.

Joe and David will have a live tracker for their record attempt.

  • Summary:

    An EEAST paramedic is preparing for a World Record bid which he hopes will encourage conversations around suicide and highlight support that is out there for anyone who is struggling.