Cambridge school striker trains to kayak to coast in fundraiser to ‘stop this global [climate change] nightmare’
Nico Cordonier-Gehring, one of the founders of Cambridge Schools Eco Council, has completed his first training session for an upcoming fundraiser which will see him kayak from Cambridge to the sea.
The eco council has been quiet since the pandemic interrupted its protest schedule, but that isn’t to say Cambridge’s younger citizens have taken their eye off the ball. On the contrary, Nico’s return to front-line climate protest duties - which began in 2019 when he was nine - was prompted by rising concern as climate change kicks in.
“Our future, our very survival, is at stake,” says Nico. “Children and nature, who are voiceless and vulnerable, are already suffering. We need all the help we can get, to stop this global nightmare.”
Rather than staying sad, scared and angry, though, this summer Nico decided to kayak from Cambridge where he lives to the sea, to raise funds for local and global charities who are trying to protect children’s rights and nature from the impacts of climate change.
All funds raised will go directly to local charities working to protect our fenlands and promote education about sustainability solutions, such as Wicken Fen and the Botanical Gardens of Cambridge, and to the Voices for Future Generations Children’s Initiative, which Nico has helped as a volunteer for years, as well as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Isabel Sedgwick, experience and visitor operations manager at Wicken Fen, said: “It’s so fantastic to find out about youngsters taking action and doing something positive as obviously climate change is a huge anxiety for young people - it’s their future. He’s obviously sat down and gone ‘how can I help?’ and that includes us so it’s really great and it’s young people’s future day on August 12 so it all helps.”
By way of training, Nico, 14, took to the Cam yesterday (August 11). Starting at Coe Fen, he paddled up past Jesus Lock, through Bait’s Bite Lock, and went on to Ely.
“It was a long paddle, and sometimes my arms ached, but I kept going,” said Nico the following day. “The fens are beautiful, with fascinating wildlife, especially the grey heron and dragonflies who kept me company for part of my journey. I’m more determined than ever to complete my paddle to the sea, and protect them.”
Nico sets off for the next stage of his fundraising adventure on August 28-29. He is aiming to go all the way to The Wash, then down the Great Ouse from King’s Lynn, where there is a canoe paddlepoint landing on the coast, and then on to Hunstanton.
The departure time on August 28 is 9.30am, and he aims to reach Jesus Green locks at 10am. Any children or youth who wish to come for the send-off or to accompany him on bikes, boats or boards (with parents to supervise) are welcome.