01:00AM, Sunday 31 August 2014
Support from an intrepid yachtsman has helped the Alexander Devine Children's Hospice Service (ADCHS) move closer to its £5m target.
Richard Balcon raised more than £1,800 through fundraising activities including traversing the seas on two legs of a round-the-world-voyage.
The 64-year-old joined the crew of a Clipper 70 racing yacht in April and sailed from San Francisco back to London.
He was inspired to support ADCHS after the birth of his two grandchildren, Ollie and Ted, on April 1 last year.
"We were lucky enough to have two grandsons born healthy, but I read there is no hospice care for children in Berkshire so it struck a chord," said the retired NHS services manager from Wokingham.
The only thing that remained before he took on the 10,000-mile journey was to convince his wife, Pat.
Richard said her mind was made up when he teased the chance for her to meet him on a stop in New York city and indulge in some retail therapy.
He set off from California with his fellow amateur crew-mates and one experienced skipper on April 19 and reached the Big Apple in June.
He took in some amazing sights along the way, including schools of dolphins swimming alongside the boat and the scenery of countless countries.
The trip took him along Panama Canal - which he first traversed as a 17-year-old on a Shell tanker in the merchant navy - and over the Caribbean Sea.
His final leg was across the Atlantic before hitting dry land in England on July 12.
"It was a challenge eating, working and sleeping in close proximity to everyone, but they soon became fellow crew members and friends," he said.
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