25 August 2011

Honouring a Menacing Journey

This week, Sizewell Beach, on the British coast saw the arrival of a group of fundraisers who had spent forty hours kayaking from the Netherlands to the UK. 

A group of six - Alex Greenwell, Ed Cooper, Harry Franks, Olly Hicks and brother Henri and William Peteri - attempted to cross the North Sea in kayaks, following the same trail as 32 young Dutchmen had done 70 years ago, in an attempt to flee Nazi-occupid Holland. 

The Dutchmen who braved the original trip - known as 'Engelandvaarders' - tried to get to the shores of the UK to subsequently join the war effort against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan). Not only did they face unpredictable weather conditions, the North Sea was also heavily mined. But, echoing Patrick Sarsfield's story, these courageous Men of Action wanted to escape oppression and have the opportunity to help secure freedom for their country. 
Original Engelandvaaders who left Holland during the Second World War
Although only eight of the original Engelandvaarders survived the menacing journey, this recent fundraising event is testament to the courage and dedication. 

Olly Hicks admitted 'It was a really tough challenge'. These words bear extra weight when you consider that Olly was the first person to row from the US to the UK in 2005. The team faced up to force six winds and didn't sleep for two night. He continued, 'I met some of the original Engelandvaarders in Holland and it's a privilege to do this in their honour'.  

Arriving at Sizewell Beach in Suffolk, UK
Raising thousands of pounds for the Suffolk Foundation, which is an independent grant maker for local charities, and Combat Stress, a leading organisation for the care of soldier's mental health, the recreation took forty hours. 

The courage and dedication shown by both the original Engelandvaarders and the men who recreated the journey are qualities shared by The Wild Geese - and what out Collection of Irish Whiskeys celebrates. 

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