A MAN who spent 12 years suffering lock-in syndrome and now spends most of his life in a wheelchair after a road traffic accident is taking on a huge rowing challenge.

Paul Smith, 59, of Portsmouth, completed a training row from Eastney to the Needles in preparation for his main row across the Channel.

Paul is taking on the challenge to raise funds for Breast Cancer Haven in memory of good friend, Marjorie Anne Walker, who died after her second fight against breast cancer in May 2017.

Paul said: "Marjorie Anne was an inspiration to me as she had already fought the terrible disease once before by sadly succumbed to it last year.

"Even though she was battling her own cancer, she continued to help many others who were diagnosed with the same condition.

"She set up Portsmouth Breast Friends, which in turn helped to raised funds for Breast Cancer Haven, a countrywide charity."

Rowing across the Channel, of course, would be a huge challenge for anyone, but Paul suffers with extensive injuries to his brain, spine, chest, shoulder, neck, hip and knee.

He has migraine strength pressure on his brain 24/7 and endures constant pain throughout his whole body.

He has suffered this since September 1991 when someone overtaking on a blind bend at night hit him head on.

He went into lock-in syndrome for 12 years, not knowing his family or friends and not speaking or communicating in any way.

Paul, ex-Royal Navy, hopes o raise £250,000 with this challenge.

Paul completed the training row to the Isle of Wight's Needles, a 30.6 mile journey, in 5 hours 30 minutes, rowing the first 2 hours 30 minutes shrouded in fog.

"As we were halfway across, the Isle of Wight suddenly disappeared under a shroud of fog.

"The decision was made to turn north and head towards the mainland shoreline for safety reasons. We headed along the north channel staying close to the Stokes bay and Lee-on-Solent shoreline as the Solent had all but disappeared in the fog.

"We reached the Southampton Shipping Channel in approximately two hours.

"We waited by a north channel buoy for a while because we heard ships fog horns then out of the mist appeared the Red Funnel ferry heading up Southampton water into Southampton, then a decision was made to sprint the 800/1000m width channel and hopefully find the Calshot North Cardinal buoy and safety — we almost bumped into it.

"As we reached the buoy, the fog began to lift and there on the other side of the Solent was Cowes and the Isle of Wight, the sun shone and everywhere was visible."

This is not the first time Paul has taken part in fundraising challenges. He has done a number of cross-country wheelchair challenges and in 2015, pushed himself up the Rock of Gibraltar in record time.

Paul will carry out his Challenge the Channel in May 2019.

Paul is in search of sponsors for his challenge and the rest of his training and asks any interested parties to contact him on typhoon@challenger11.plus.com.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ChallengetheChannel.