ALMOST 100 canoeists took to the water on Saturday, in memory of York St John University lecturer Kate Stainsby, who died on New Year’s Day when her canoe overturned.

The sponsored event was due to be held ahead of the York 800 flotilla, and went ahead despite the council’s celebration being postponed.

Rob Sheard, from the York Canoe Club, said: “It’s a celebration of Kate’s life and an opportunity to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance.

“We thought about calling it off, but although the river is moving reasonably quickly, it’s not too bad. The council have been really helpful, and we just wanted to help a great cause. They need every penny they can get.”

Kate’s partner Paul Simpson took part in the paddle, with their daughter Hannah and Kate’s parents. He said: “Because the river is so high, we didn’t really have to try, just relax and enjoy being with so many friends. If it wasn’t for the air ambulance, Kate wouldn’t have got to hospital in time for her organs to be donated, and for her to live on in others. It’s awe-inspiring really.”

He said their thoughts were with the family of Jason Raper, a York Canoe Club member, who is missing after canoeing in a swollen river in Norway.