A residential care officer at Stone Bay School in Broadstairs will be paddleboarding solo across the Channel next week in a bid to raise funds and awareness for a bird protection charity.
Andy Short, 37, is taking on the 24-mile challenge from Dungeness to Boulogne in aid of The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)
CABS, who Andy has volunteered with for the past 11 years, works to protect migratory birds from illegal trapping and killing in the Med.
Andy, who is also a talented amateur wildlife photographer, hopes to raise £10,000 for the cause.
He said: “CABS are a Bonn based, non-profit organisation that do incredible work protecting our migratory birds from illegal trapping and killing. They run bird protection camps in bird poaching hotspots such as; Cyprus, Malta and Italy.
“I’ve been regularly volunteering for CABS in Brescia Northern Italy for the last 11 years. In small covert teams we search for illegal bird traps in the high mountains. Finding traps is very difficult as the poachers are getting very adept at hiding them. After locating traps we show these sites to the Italian forest police and they will ambush and arrest the poacher.
“Last year 48 poachers were arrested and charged. CABS have been running protection camps in Italy for the last 36 years. While volunteering for CABS at the International Bird Fair last August I decided it was high time I personally did more to support them. So, I set myself the challenge of solo paddle boarding across the English Channel to help raise funds and awareness for CABS.”
Andy’s love of bird began at a young age when he was taken birdwatching by his dad. The pair did their first international birding trip together to Hong Kong when Andy was 16, to see the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
Andy said: “I’ve been hooked ever since.”
He takes advantage of the school holidays to work for CABS and hone his photography skills.
Andy has been training for the solo paddle for around four months with regular trips to the gym and getting out on the waves and paddleboarding for up to four hours at a time.
The route to Boulogne is expected to take some 7 hours and Andy will be accompanied by a support boat, which will cost some £1,600. Andy is seeking local corporate sponsors to help fund the boat and is also raising money through local events.
The boat crew make the ultimate decision over whether conditions are safe enough for the crossing. If not Andy will be placed on a waiting list for the next available spot.
Andy has also been organising fundraising events. In March he ran a quiz night which 120 people attended and raised £1,400! Last month there was a fun curry and magic evening, raising £700 and there will be another quiz night organised for July 14.