Professional racing driver and double leg amputee, Billy Monger, is pushing himself to the limit this week as he takes on Billy’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge which will see him attempt to walk, cycle and kayak over 140 miles in four days, for Red Nose Day.
Today (Tuesday 23 February) he will be undertaking his kayaking challenge having been coached by our very own Hannah Brown.
Having started racing at just six-years-old, Billy, now aged 21, quickly became one of Britain’s most exciting young talents within the world of competitive motor racing and became the Super 1 National Honda Cadet Champion at the age of 10. In April 2017, following a devastating crash during a British F4 race at Donington Park circuit, Billy was left with life-changing injuries, resulting in the amputation of both his legs. However, Billy’s resilience and resolve saw him back behind the wheel within a year and back to winning ways, which led to being awarded the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2018.
Billy said: “It still feels so surreal that I’m doing this for Red Nose Day - that I’m doing 140 miles, in disciplines that I haven’t got any experience in at all. I haven’t cycled since my accident, three years ago and I’ve never kayaked in my life, so I’m going to have to get the hang of the gear pretty quickly, especially to cover the distances that we’re doing. So, it’s nerve wracking but it’s exciting.
Billy has been training for the challenge for a couple of months now and has been working with specialists and trying out new bikes and kayaks to ensure he has the best equipment available. Billy has also been helped and advised through Zoom training sessions by Wildwater World Champion and British Canoeing coach Hannah Brown and Billy’s long-time trainer, Andy Wellfare to ensure he has the best levels of training and professional advice before taking on this challenge.
Hannah said: “Comic Relief contacted us a while ago to ask for our assistance in getting Billy into a kayak and helping him to prepare this great challenge.
“To undertake the training in the tough winter weather is really impressive. He took to it quickly and with great ease. He’s got great core stability from all his race driving, the biggest thing was getting used to the paddles in the water.
“His trainability is awesome, he threw himself in and I’m sure he’ll be brilliant in his challenge.
“My biggest reflection from meeting Billy was his openness to learn and willingness to try something new, his coach-ability is fantastic. We could all take a leaf out of his book and face our challenges with the same openness.
“He’s very inspirational and we wish him all the best for “Billy’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge.”
Billy added: “I never thought I’d be doing a Red Nose Day challenge of my own. I remember watching people like David Walliams and John Bishop when I was younger and never ever would I have imagined myself in their shoes. But the reason I said yes is because I really hope we can raise lots of money for people that need support. It’s such a difficult time right now for everyone and I’m really proud to be able to do something to help."
The money Billy raises will help tackle important issues including homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and mental health problems, all of which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, including those now reliant on food banks, and provide vital funding to under resourced front line charities as they adapt and navigate through these difficult uncertain times.
If you’ve been inspired by Billy’s Challenge you can find out more here.
People at home will be able to see all the highs and lows of Billy’s challenge in an hour-long special documentary, filmed by a reduced crew that will be adhering to strict Covid-19 guidelines throughout the challenge, on BBC One.
If you would like to get into paracanoeing, you can find more details here: https://gopaddling.info/find-local-paddle-ability/