Originally I arranged for 21 people to do the White Water Rafting at Canolfan Tryweryn, Bala in North Wales, 3 boats of 7 people in each. Then, as usual, people started to drop out, but I eventually ended with 14 faithful people, most of whom have helped me to raise funds for CRY in the past.
Finally the day came! Helped on our way by very generous donations from Warburtons Family Bakers, who provided lunch and a cash donation; and from Arriva, who supplied a cash donation and 12-seater minibus for our adventure.
We were to arrive at the White Water Rafting centre at 1pm on Saturday 21st August 2004. However due to the many events being held all over Wales in the summer, we were all delayed, the last of us arriving at nearly 2pm.
So we were quickly given a few instructions as to where to get our gear, wet suits, splash jackets, helmets, and something one us would realise he definitely needed – our buoyancy aids (Life Jackets!).
Our instructors then gave us 6 paddles, “Hang On!” I thought. “There are 7 of us in each boat plus the instructor!” So it was at this point we found out that one of our crew would be sitting in the middle of the boat, holding on for dear life.
We were ushered over to our boats, and the instructor started going through some safety rules and regulations, “Hold this!”, ” Do that when I say that”, “Duck down when I say this.” And then he said it; ” If you should fall out, your buoyancy aid will bring you to the surface. One of your crew will attempt to help you back in, but in the event that we can’t reach you, I will tell you which direction to swim in!” And it hit one of other boat’s crew members; “But I can’t swim” Kayode says. Well that was nearly the end of the White Water Rafting for him, but their instructor made sure he would be able to get himself to the side, should the unfortunate thing happen, and Kayode was allowed to continue.
On the first run, we were all trying to get used to the instructions that our guide was shouting. Following an exhilarating run, we were eager to get our boat out of the water, on the back of the truck, and back up to the top of the river to start again.
By the time we hit the second run, the adrenaline was rushing, and we were ready to go at it again. As before we started off nice and calm, but then as we hit the rapids, our guide was shouting the instructions thick and fast. The next thing we knew, James was overboard, and we were headed straight for the other teams boat! As we reached the other boat, James was still in the water and his head was sandwiched between the two, and the only place he could go was down again! Within a few seconds which felt like an eternity for James, we pulled him out, and onto our raft, then we were straight off again, heading towards the rapids.
At one point we were heading for a bridge, and the instructions were to paddle hard left, but we were heading for that bridge so quickly that I did not have time to put my paddle in the water (I was on the left), and we hit it with all the force the fast flowing water could muster. We bounced off, sending James straight into the drink again! At this point James was not so lucky – he floated away from us faster than we could row. He continued straight for a stopper (a dip in the river, creating white water that rolls back on itself), went straight in and started to roll. He said that he felt the bottom of the river on his hands so he pushed up from ground and continued on down the river. He eventually swam over to the bank and had to walk further down to get back in the boat.
After that second run, we were all very wary about just how powerful this little river in Wales actually was. We were all holding on as tight as possible as we went down on our third run, and James tried his hardest to get me out of the boat, but I wasn’t going to allow that!
Following the rafting adventure, and once we were all cleaned up, we headed off to Bala Lake. There we had a BBQ supplied by Warburtons, and a few alcoholic drinks. This was great, because we did not have to drive back, as the Minibus that Arriva NorthWest supplied was being driven by my Uncle!
We would all like to thank CRY and SKYLINE for the experience; Warburtons; and Bill Parkinson – garage Manager at Arriva NorthWest; for their help and providing there services free of charge. We would also like to thank our sponsors for helping us raise £1460 so far ( and we’re still counting!)