Making a splash at Kinsale Harbour on Saturday, the business partners were greeted by an elated group of family and friends, welcoming them back from a 1,600km adventure in aid of hospices in Laois and Offaly.
Having started the business True Fitness together three years ago, Diane and John said they were overwhelmed by the support shown to them by locals in Portarlington, Portlaoise, and Tullamore where their training studios are located.
“We wanted to give something back to the community,” Diane said. “We decided to raise money — €7,000 so far — for the Laois and Offaly hospices.
“My dad passed away from cancer 25 years ago and unfortunately a number of people we know have also needed the services of the hospices. We know the fantastic work they do and wanted to contribute in some way.”
On June 22, the daring duo set out from Old Head in Kinsale, covering between 50km and 70km a day. Getting around five hours’ sleep a night, John and Diane were usually on the water by 6:30am, paddling between 12 and 17 hours each day.
“It’s been so tough physically and mentally,” Diane said but she stressed the kindness of strangers, coupled with the beauty of the Irish coast, kept their spirits strong.
“Ireland is so beautiful and everyone we met along the way has been so kind to us,” said Diane. “A number of people gave us food, showers, and even beds for the night along the way. That kindness does a lot when you are exhausted.”
The pair have spent the last month and a half at the mercy of Mother Nature, braving harsh weather conditions, particularly around Donegal, and taking on huge open water crossings.
Happy to be back on dry land, Diane counts herself incredibly lucky to have been fit and able and healthy enough to complete the challenge.
“It has been an amazing journey,” she said.
“We’re so delighted we did it.”
If you would like to make a donation to the Laois and Offaly Hospices, you can contact True Fitness on their Facebook page, where you will also find more great images and video of John and Diane’s charity kayak adventure.