Paralympian takes 2017 Challenge

Paralympian takes 2017 Challenge

Posted on 11th August 2017

Blaire Hannan, the Paralympian sailor, begins her Fundraising Summer Challenge with Funding Neuro this weekend (August 12th), in Bristol.

The 27-year-old, who has a rare movement disorder known as Fixed Dystonia, will take to the water at Bristol Harbour and begin her attempt to kayak 100km over four consecutive weekends. She has named her efforts, the “Paddle for Progress.”

Blaire, who carried the Torch for the 2012 London Olympics, will now take on the challenge of raising £3,000 or more this summer for vital research into serious neurological conditions.

Blaire Hannan | Funding Neuro
Blaire lights the Olympic Cauldron in 2012. (Photo: ITV West)


In 2007 and 2008 Blaire underwent brain surgery with Funding Neuro’s Professor Gill.

Taking the Summer Challenge is her way of personally thanking Bristol-based Professor Gill for his life-saving operations over the years. She also wants to raise awareness of Dystonia and the work of pioneering new research into neurological conditions.

Blaire says: “I am not the only success story from neurosurgery research.  Neurological disorders can be very scary and desperate at times. Without the support and dedication of the doctors from Professor Steven Gill’s research team, I and others would not be here today.”

As Blaire prepares to set sail, we ask her a little more about her Summer Challenge:

What exactly are you doing to raise money for Funding Neuro?

I am kayaking 100 km in Bristol Harbour. This will be done as 25km trips over four weekends (12th, 19th, 26th Auguest and 3rd September). I will be helped by lots of friends and family who are putting on fundraising activities in support. i would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the local business and organisations who donated prizes and sponsored my events.

What inspired you to take up Funding Neuro’s Summer Challenge?
I had the urge to say ‘thank you’ to Professor Gill of Bristol whose treatment gave me the opportunity to come out of a genaralised dystonic state and regain upper body movement. Following the operations, I graduated from Manchester University, became a speech and language therapist, and a sailing instructor and race coach. Now, I want to give back and raise awareness of serious neurological conditions through sporting activities. My personal rehabilitation started on the water using sailing as physio. So it was only right that I use watersports as a means to raise money this summer – it’s a full circle.

How are your fundraising efforts going so far?
I’m around halfway there towards my goal of raising £3,000 or more for the charity. I’m hoping to raise as much money as I can and that the local community turn out to support me in Bristol or online.

How can people support your “Paddle For Progress”?
People can donate on the internet either at, my Just Giving Page or on Facebook. They can also come and cheer me on my final paddle on Sunday 3rd September at 2pm, Bristol Harbour. There will be a prize raffle and all sorts of games – all proceeds raised to Funding Neuro, of course!

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