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The man in the two photos is Terry Lasenby. He’s 65 years old, is a builder from a town not far from mine, lives in an ordinary house, drives an ordinary car and generally blends into a crowd without being noticed.
And to me, he’s an adventure hero. In the 10 years I have known him, Terry has inspired me more than any famous mountaineer, high profile athlete or dare devil adventurer ever has.
Like me, Terry’s main passion in life is kayaking. He lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and dreams kayaking. He’s the embodiment of the weekend warrior. With every new nail he hammers into a frame, it’s a step closer to being able to plant his paddle into the water on a Saturday morning. Kayaking has been his life since he was introduced to it at the age of 50. That’s right – 50.
Before that, his life was occasionally playing rugby – and then someone opened the adventure door to him. His life changed forever. Terry’s hero status in my eyes is not just because he is a fellow whitewater chaser who continues to get out there and do it at a more “mature” age. He is self admittedly an intermediate kayaker and he happily occupies that space in the kayaking world. But where he towers over most who chase class 5 white water, is his willingness to share and introduce the river life to as many people as he possibly can, and in turn open the adventure door for others. Over the years as president of the local kayaking club, he’s made it his mission to introduce guys and girls of all ages to paddling, teach them to roll, take them on their first river trip, teach river safety, and guide them through the intermediate stages of kayaking. Time and time again I’ve seen at-risk young guys and girls who Terry has taken under his wing, given them the opportunity to channel their energy into the river and changed their lives for the better. All he did was open the door, they walked through it and into a better life through the lessons that the river and the great outdoors teaches us – that challenge is growth, and an adventure shared is building a community that you value, and in turn values you.
In my life, I’ve paddled plenty of hard class 5 rivers in some incredible places in the world – places I always dream of returning to, but I’ll take an afternoon paddle on our local class 3-4 run with Terry and his new crop of kayaking debutants any day, for the sheer joy of seeing the adventure shared by a 25 year old who occupies a 65 year old frame, and knowing he’s playing a massive and important part in their lives. In my world, there’s no one like him.