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Difficult one, this, there are lots of reasons. So, here are a few:

  • to challenge myself. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down by all the restrictions of my condition, so it’s great to be able to get out there and remind myself what is still possible when the right support is available. Find out more about Justin’s condition
  • to encourage others with a chronic disorder (like Justin) to reassess what is possible for them.
  • to raise the profile of bowel disease, including cancer, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, IBS, ostomy (stoma), intravenous nutrition.
  • to raise research funding for St Mark’s Hospital charitable foundation (registered UK charity 1140930). Interested in their work into early detection and treatment of bowel cancer? Read about some of their amazing research here.
  • to see the beautiful English countryside and hang out with my best friends / fellow paddlers for a while.
  • to provide the momentum to upgrade the narrow boat Merlot so she can be used as a resource for the community regeneration work of Canal Connections.
  • as an educational project. Gutless Kayaking’s mascot, Flat Stanley, will be part of the curriculum at Clifton High School, Bristol, as the children follow his adventures.
  • to help to clean up our waterways. We have already joined forces with Terry Oliver, who tirelessly works to clear the River Trent of human debris. We will be using the Trolleywise app to help identify and retrieve abandoned supermarket trolleys from the waterways – the proceeds of which go towards planting trees.

Read one of our PRESS RELEASES


St Mark’s patient Justin Hansen is a man with more guts than most.  He, along with a variety of friends, is paddling 420 miles of canals from Skipton (North Yorkshire) to Bristol (South West England) in September 2013 in aid of our very own St Mark’s Hospital.

It’s an adventure few of us would contemplate, but for Justin, there is an added challenge – the 52-year-old has virtually no bowel and is fed through a tube to keep him alive. Justin, who suffers from both Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome, spent  seven years in and out of hospital, recovering from countless operations.  In 2009 a serious heart infection led to a stroke and the need for open heart surgery. Despite everything he’s been through, Justin, is determined to help St Mark’s, the hospital that continues to provide Justin’s care.

“This trip is my way of saying thank you to everyone who has helped me get well and somehow kept my health on track over these last few years, and to raise some funds for the amazing research carried out at St. Mark’s Hospital.”

“The intestinal failure research being carried out is essential for the many people who suffer from intestinal conditions including, bowel cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and Colitis.”

“As a result of this research there will be medical advances for patients with many of these conditions in the future and new solutions provided by the growth of human tissue and transplants will be possible.”

“I am very grateful for everyone involved with the Gutless Kayaking adventure and thankful to all of those who have been able to sponsor or donate to this very worthy cause.”

Justin’s consultant gastroenterologist, Dr Simon Gabe, said:

“It is people like Justin who can show other patients that life is still possible and dreams are still possible despite intestinal failure. This is something that is truly inconceivable for a patient at the beginning of the road: when they are in a hospital bed coming to St Mark’s with bags on their abdomen, in pain, losing weight and having repeated infections.

“Justin is an inspiration to us all and is the very reason that I do the job that I do.”

The trip begins in Skipton on Saturday 7 September 2013 and will take 32 days to complete with many obstacles to contend with, including 280 locks. We finish, 420 miles later, in Bristol on Tuesday 8th October.

All funds raised from Gutless Kayaking will go to the St Marks Hospital Foundation You can find out more about Justin’s adventure at Donations can be made at

In the UK it is estimated that there are 60,000 Crohn’s disease sufferers, 150,000 sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease and more than 38,600 patients diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.