A WIDNES dad battling Crohn's disease is preparing to row across the English Channel in a sea kayak.

Paul Hardaker, aged 43, intended to embark on his 28-mile marathon this week but it was cancelled due to bad weather.

Civil engineer Paul, from Hough Green, said: “I’m absolutely gutted but it’s a dangerous stretch of water and I have to respect the sea.

“The biggest difficulty is finding the strength and the stamina.”

He now plans to set sail mid August, accompanied by a safety boat, and hopes to make the crossing in around 10 hours.

He is raising funds and awareness for Crohns & Colitis UK, a charity which helps sufferers like himself.

Paul said: “I feel it’s important to show that it’s possible to lead an active life and to inspire other sufferers to achieve their potential.

“I have had this disease for 13 years. I am one of the fortunate ones as I manage really well with it.

“It is phenomenal that with a little bit of effort you can raise so much happiness and awareness.”

Paul, who has a son and lives with his partner, thrives on challenges.

He sailed single-handed around the UK coast in 2011 on board a 27ft yacht with his African grey parrot, Finlay and raised £3,500.

To reach his target of £10,000, Paul has set himself two further tests of endurance.

He is doing a sponsored motorbike trek across the Pyrenees in August and a Leeds to Liverpool canal kayaking voyage in the autumn.

To sponsor Paul, visit paulhardakerchallenges.co.uk.