A VETERAN canoeist and well-known Thornbury shop owner will paddle his way along the River Wye for 18 hours straight in a show of solidarity for dementia patients.

Richard Edwards, 36, will row 103 miles on Friday, June 21 with his brother-in-law James Garrett for the National Brain Appeal, the charity which is currently supporting one of their relatives, who suffers from a rare and fast deteriorating form of dementia.

The duo will set off in Richard's 19-foot Canadian canoe from Hay on Wye at the crack of dawn, approximately 4am, and plans to reach Bigsweir Bridge in the Wye Valley at 11pm.

The owner of Surroundings in St Mary Street tackled a similarly strenuous challenge in 2011, when he embarked on a solo five-day trek along the River Severn.

"It's so far beyond what I have ever done or heard anyone else doing in a day; it's hard to know if it's do-able," Richard said.

"We do know that we'll endure all the fatigue, arm ache, back ache and blisters we can stand for such a great cause. We just hope our bodies hold up over such a huge distance.

"We will have to maintain six miles per hour for 18 hours to do it. And it's about as much as you can do in a canoe. I would rather pick something that is a challenge than something that is a guarantee."

With the paddle scheduled ten days before he is due to become a dad for the second time, Richard is praying the baby does not arrive early.

"If the baby was early and I was in the middle of nowhere on a river, it would be even more nerve-wracking," he added.

This will also be a test of endurance and fortitude for James, 36, who two months ago had never even sat in a canoe. The pair have almost reached their £1,000 fundraising target with £800 already in the bank.

"We want to do this for a close family member who suffers from a rare form of dementia," Richard said.

"It came as such as shock to everyone and her symptoms deteriorated so quickly. The National Brain Appeal has supported the whole family. She's still in a position at the moment where she can appreciate what we are doing. In a year we don't what the position will be in terms of what she knows."

To give Richard your support visit www.justgiving.com/richardandjamescanoe

Alternatively charity collection boxes have been placed in various shops around town, including Surroundings.