St Albans ex-councillor sails for charity despite brain disease

The competition took place over the course of a week and those who entered took part in two races ea

The competition took place over the course of a week and those who entered took part in two races each day in Bordeaux in France - Credit: Archant

Undeterred by suffering from a rare brain condition, a former St Albans district councillor has sailed against a world champion to raise money for two charities.

John Gunner, 57, from Marshalswick, has taken part in the International 2.4 Class European Sailing Championship to raise money for The National Brain Appeal and RYA Sailability - a charity which makes sailing accessible to people with disabilities.

The competition took place over the course of a week and those who entered took part in two races each day in Bordeaux in France.

John, who was a Lib Dem councillor, is now a limited walker and wheelchair user. He previously ran half marathons and sailed ocean races for charity but that is no longer an option.

The European Sailing Championship saw him compete against some of the best sailors in Europe including the world champion, Megan Pascoe - who herself is disabled - despite suffering from a brain condition called Cavernoma, which causes stroke-like symptoms.


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John had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 17 and more recently Motor Neurone Disease.

So he decided to take his lifelong passion for sailing to its limits and got a place on the Royal Yachting Association Paralympics training programme in a one-person scaled down yacht in preparation for the European sailing championship.

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He said: “Just two months ago I found out that I also have Motor Neurone Disease and it’s at times like this you really start to rethink things.”

John took part in the competition to raise money for his two chosen charities to thank them for all the help they have given him.

He added: “The European Championship came at just the right time and I am so grateful; I am using all this to raise some money for them.”

For more information or to donate visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-Gunner2

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