Press releases

Rotarian’s three-day charity voyage along the River Avon

Paul Weatherill’s three-day charity voyage along the River Avon will raise money for ShelterBox

25 April 2023

Man in homemade boat on river

Press release – 21 April 2023

A Rotarian from Norfolk is embarking on a three-day fundraising adventure along the River Avon in a homemade boat to raise money for an international disaster relief charity. ShelterBox specialises in emergency shelter aid and supports people who lose their homes to disaster, extreme weather events, and conflict.

Paul Weatherill, 68, is preparing to launch his homemade boat, ‘ShelterBoat 2’, for a 43-mile trip that he hopes will raise £2,500. He’ll set off from Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club on Saturday 29 April 2023 arriving in Tewkesbury on Bank Holiday Monday.

Paul, from Thetford, says: “I grew up near the Norfolk Broads and that’s where my love for boats began. I came up with the idea for my challenge because of my love of the water and wanted a way to capture the attention of people and raise funds for charity.

“I have always been a supporter of ShelterBox because of the work that the charity does to help so many people.”

The charity has an ongoing response helping people affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. It’s also supporting people displaced by extreme weather events like the monsoon flooding in Pakistan and the worst drought to hit East Africa in 40 years.

It will be the second time that Paul, a long-time member of the Watton and District Rotary Club, has launched his homemade boat for ShelterBox. He’s being supported by his good friend David Foster, who has organised much of the logistics for the challenge, Rotary clubs along the route, friends, and family.

Founded by Rotary members from Cornwall in 2000, the charity began sending green boxes of aid – known as ShelterBoxes – to places all over the world. The charity has evolved since then, and now provides different combinations of emergency shelter items and training to make the biggest difference for communities after disaster. It provides locally appropriate shelter and other essential items such as tarpaulins, tools, solar lights, thermal blankets, mosquito nets, and water filters.

Paul says: “During lockdown Nigel, an ex-RAF engineer, and I built a one-person dinghy using a promotional ShelterBox, with a sail and an electric outboard.

“In August 2021 we launched ‘ShelterBoat 1’ on the Norfolk Broads, and over a couple of days I took it down river to Great Yarmouth across the notorious Breydon Water, then back up the River Yare to Norwich.

“It was an epic voyage, with torrential rain and tidal current, but I stayed afloat, and we raised around £2,500 for ShelterBox.”

Rotary Engagement Officer for ShelterBox, Fiona Turner says: “We were delighted to hear that Paul was keen to match his donation from 2021 by setting off on another fundraising voyage.

“It’s supporters like Paul who help fund ShelterBox responses around the world – helping people who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict.

“Our aid makes a tangible difference to the lives of so many when they’ve been left with so little. Simple items that give them that first step-up to get back on their feet.”

ShelterBox is also supporting people who have had to flee their homes, or had them damaged, because of conflict. ShelterBox is working in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Mozambique.

To find out more about fundraising for ShelterBox, visit

For anyone wanting to support Paul’s challenge, visit for more.


For more information contact the press office at ShelterBox via [email protected].

Notes to Editors

  • Photographs and captions included. More images available on request.
  • Interviews with Paul available on request