A Worcestershire teenager with type 1 diabetes has successfully travelled across the world’s busiest shipping lanes on a paddleboard.
Molly McNicholas, 16, was part of a team of students from Malvern College who travelled across the English Channel on stand-up paddleboards.
Speaking to The Times, Molly said: “It’s a great feeling that after all the hard work, we got across the Channel in one piece. My diabetes adds an extra layer of complication. When your blood sugar is low it makes you tired, grumpy and bad at decision-making but no one at Malvern has ever said ‘You’re diabetic; you can’t do that’ – just ‘How do we keep you safe?'”
The team began their challenge from Dungeness in Kent, paddling past oil tankers and ferries. Their journey took more than seven hours and 42 minutes before they reached the French coast.
Molly was wearing an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor as she completed the gruelling task.
She said: “My teammates kept an eye on me too but I’d trained for this carefully and luckily there were no dramas. I’ve never done anything this big and Mum was a bit stressed about us crossing busy shipping lanes on a paddleboard but I really wanted to test myself – and I can still hardly believe we’ve done it.
“My friends have been really supportive too. When I was training, if they saw me getting stroppy and argumentative they teased me: ‘Have some sugar and if you want to continue this argument when you’re not low, you can!'”
The team now have several other challenges to complete as the Channel task was one leg of a three-week expedition to Paris. Their aim is to reach the French capital either by foot or by using only human-powered vehicles. They plan to also use kayaks, canoes and mountain bikes.
The idea was thought up by Jay Watts, the college’s head of outdoor pursuits. Speaking about Molly, he called her “incredible”, adding: “She’s gained so much independence, particularly preparing for this expeditio, and now manages her diabetes far better than before. She used to hide it but now jokes about it. Planning the trip has made her realise she can do anything she wants.”