Berkeley First sponsors youngest girl to cross the channel

22nd February 2013

On Tuesday 19th February young Leaside members Maia Wallace-Loizou and Dylan Barber-May succeeded in paddling across the channel in just 4 hours 15 minutes.

Maia is now the youngest girl ever to kayak across the English Channel.

Setting off in crisp, but sunny and still conditions from Folkestone at 9am, they were joined on the water by two adult volunteers Alan Goode and Luke O'Bryan. Bryan Fennell was in the safety boat keeping everyone's spirits up and Stephen O'Flaherty provided transport on the other side in France.

Dylan and Maia had come up with the idea to raise money to buy more sports equipment for their club, Leaside. Based on the River Lea in Hackney, Leaside delivers inspiring and engaging outdoor activities to young people, encouraging them to stay in education, develop their confidence, leadership skills and ambition. The children who go to Leaside live in the top 1% of deprived housing in the UK.

They both trained hard for the challenge with adult coaches throughout the winter. As Dylan explains "waking up at 6am to kayak in the cold and going again after school but it was worth it because this is for Leaside. It's a great charity helping young, sometimes deprived Londoners to get out of the house, off the streets and do something fun which they can get good at."

Matthew Biddle, Managing Director at Berkeley First said: "Dylan does work experience with us at the Goodman's Fields site so it was through him that we developed the relationship with Leaside Education Trust. The work they do with young people is really important for Hackney and we are delighted to support them." 

Photos and a video are available upon request. Please contact Rupal Parmar on 01932 868 555 or

Notes to editors:

• The Berkeley Group builds homes and neighbourhoods. We focus on creating beautiful, successful places. We work together with other people to tackle the shortage of good quality homes, and we make a lasting contribution to the landscape and to the communities we help create.

• The Berkeley Group is made up of 5 autonomous companies: St George, St James, Berkeley, Berkeley First, and St Edward. We are publicly-owned and listed on the London Stock Exchange as a FTSE 250 company. 

• The Berkeley Group was voted Britain's Most Admired Company across all industries in 2011, and has been ranked Britain's most sustainable major housebuilder for the last seven years in a row by the Next Generation benchmark.

• The Berkeley Foundation supports young people and their communities across London and the South of England through charitable donations and the time and talent of our staff.

• All media enquires to: Matt Bell, Group Head of External Affairs.  01932 868 555.

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