Friends help Heathfield man reach Rio

Tim and his team of sponsors at Heathfield Park
Tim and his team of sponsors at Heathfield Park

The owner of a Heathfield country estate has thrown his grounds open to help a pal from childhood train for the Olympics.

Heathfield firm Samuel & Son Chartered Surveyors were delighted to welcome GB paracanoeist Tim Lodge to Heathfield last week.

One of the firm’s clients, Dominic Wainford, who owns the Grade II Listed Heathfield Park, invited Tim to have use of the lakes within the 350-acre private estate so he could launch his canoe and demonstrate his prowess.

The lakes form a source of the River Cuckmere and descend through a series of pools in the Park. The estate was in the news this year when a blimp was flown indicating the height of a proposed wind turbine to provide energy for the Park and neighbourhood.

Both Dominic, a 46-year-old father of five, and Tim grew up in Guildford and know each other well.

Now Dominic has thrown open the beautiful Park lakes to Tim, currently ranked number two in the GB’s paracanoeing team with sights set on the next Olympic Games.

Samuel & Son have sponsored Tim since he embarked on a challenge to represent Team GB in the 200m Kayak Sprint at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Tim, 41, was born with gross talipes in both feet (a severe deformity of the ankle and foot) and was operated on straight from birth. Most of his operations were performed up to the age of 13, when his joints reached full growth.

At this age they completely re-structured both feet, lowered each heel and strengthened the tendons in both legs with carbon fibre. He has had 54 anaesthetics, of which 38 have been for operations and the rest for painful plaster changes. He has had a number of cosmetic operations due to general wear and tear and severe arthritic pain.

Having been involved in canoeing in his teens, Tim, who now lives in Surrey, received a call in January 2013 from a canoeing coach who had trained him in his youth and was now involved in coaching Paracanoe athletes. Tim was asked if he would like to return to the sport after a 23-year break to compete for a place in the GB Paracanoe Team. After making the squad in March 2013 his hard work in training and competing at various national events are paying off and Tim is now ranked GB #2.

Andrew Samuel said: “I have no doubt that with Tim’s dedication and commitment to what is a highly demanding training schedule, coupled with his talent and passion for the sport, he will truly shine and achieve his goal.

“We are very proud to support Tim on his journey to Rio and wish him all the very best.”