Puffin Paddle – For the Love of a Brother

Martin Girbble in his kayak, and with brother James

Martin Gribble in his kayak, and with brother James

I was recently introduced to the story of brothers Martin & James Gribble by a stranger I met at the pub one night. It’s an incredible story of tragedy and hope that needs to be told.

Both of the Gribble brothers shared a love of the outdoors, and adventure, and travel, having been to the four corners of the globe living life as it should be lived. In late 2008, James whilst holidaying in Zambia, fainted from the heat whilst sitting on a stool. In a freak accident, his landing on hard sand caused the bruising of his spinal chord and the fracture of two vertebrae, leaving him with voluntary movement from the shoulder up only.  After weeks in a Joburg hospital, James was eventually transferred back to Sydney where his long and expensive rehabilitation could commence. The Puffin Magic Foundation was set up to help pay for James’ rehab.

Martin, desperate to help his injured brother, came up with a unique fundraising idea. He would paddle the length of the great Murray River, all 2,200km of it. So he sought out sponsors to help kit him out with gear and commenced training on Sydney Harbour. At this stage he contacted yours truly, requesting help by supplying him with a split paddle that he could take as a spare. Naturally I agreed and handed over my fibreglass BD Orca, which is now strapped to the deck of his kayak as he commences his river meander.

This is an incredibly heart-felt story of love, and whilst Martin is a quiet and unassuming kind of fella, you can sense the resolve in him to see out this effort to raise the badly needed money required to help return his brother to normal health and mobility. He’s just left and is keeping a blog of his paddles and I would urge paddle-folk to keep track of him and let others know of his adventure.

Of course donations are gladly accepted on the Puffin Magic website. Good luck Martin and James!


The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith