Ken’s Kayak Challenge for Mayday

Lifeboats News Release

A Hull based Kayaker plans to complete a marathon row of the River Humber to raise money for the RNLI, without leaving the 12ft paddling pool in his back garden.

Ken Oliver

Ken Oliver

Ken getting in some training at home

Ken Oliver, 51, from Dunswell, nicknamed the ‘Humber Cowboy’ would normally be out on the water 3 or 4 times a week. But due to the lockdown, Ken has been unable to keep up is passion for paddle.

So on Friday 8th May, the electrical & mechanical engineer has set himself a challenge to complete a 34 mile (55km), 6 hour virtual journey from the Humber Bridge, downstream to Spurn point and then North to Kilnsea.

Ken says “During the current COVID-19 crisis all charities are struggling, I wanted to support the RNLI in some way, as being a regular water user, I know they are there to help me if I ever get in to difficulty when I’m out doing what I love.”

Although we’re all being asked to stay home at the moment, the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are still on call 24/7, ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice when the pager sounds, to go out and save lives at sea.

Like many other UK and Irish charities and businesses, the RNLI is facing challenges when it comes to income. With all RNLI fundraising events being cancelled due to the current global COVID-19 pandemic, the charity has launched a virtual Mayday appeal.

Mayday normally sees people taking part in group fundraising events around the UK and Ireland but, due to the pandemic, the RNLI is taking the campaign online.

Following the success of the charity’s recent Facebook Live Water Safety Wednesdays and Virtual Pub Quiz, the RNLI launched ‘Cuppa with the Crew’, a Facebook Live event on Friday 1 May, where followers joined crew for a cuppa, to ask questions and enjoy a well-deserved tea break. Supporters were asked to make a small donation of the price they would usually pay for a takeaway coffee or tea.

Other RNLI Mayday fundraising challenges include:

· Step to it for Mayday. You can lap your garden, climb your stairs or count steps during your daily permitted exercise.

· Lifesaver Quiz. Using video-calling software, test your friends’ and family’s general knowledge skills, by hosting an online Lifesaver Quiz. We’ve even got some question suggestions to get you started.

· H2Only. Can you do without your normal tipple for 10 days straight and drink only water?

RNLI Fundraising, Marketing and Media Director, Jayne George, says: ‘Our Mayday fundraising campaign is a vital event in the RNLI calendar and - given the current situation - it is more important than ever.

‘For years, our fantastic fundraisers have given their time and energy in May to help out our lifesavers. But the welfare of our volunteers, staff and supporters is our priority, and the usual range of activities are now impossible. So this year, Mayday looks a bit different.

‘Our charity is powered by the public’s generosity and we are so grateful for their support during this difficult time.’

Visit to find downloadable materials for all Mayday activities, get involved with our challenges and do something amazing from the safety of your home this May.

Notes to editors

If you would like to support Ken and the RNLI you can donate via Ken’s JustGiving page at

To set up an interview with Ken, please contact Liam Dunnett, RNLI Humber Lifeboat Press Officer on 01964 650228 or at [email protected]

RNLI media contacts
For more information on Mayday, please contact Charlotte Cranny-Evans at [email protected]. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email [email protected].

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.