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FIVE-times Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave returned to the water 15 years after he picked up his last gold medal in a charity fundraiser on Windermere.

The 53-year-old won consecutive golds from 1984 to 2000 and is widely regarded as Britain's greatest-ever Olympian.

So a six-mile trip in a canoe from Fell Foot Park to Ferry Nab, Bowness, proved no problem for Sir Steve.

In his role as an ambassador for property and construction consultancy Gleeds, he joined fundraisers on the lake as part of a triathlon challenge raising £10,000 for Cancer Research UK and local mountain rescue teams.

Speaking before he set off from the shores of Windermere, he said: "I have been involved with Gleeds for many years and have done all sorts of weird and wonderful challenges over the years. They asked me for my ideas, I gave them lots and here we are at Windermere.

"I have been kayaking a lot but cannot remember the last time I was canoeing. Hopefully it will be a nice relaxing sedate day raising lots of money for charity.

"You can't take the competition out of an athlete but unfortunately I am not much of an athlete any more. In my mind I want to compete but my body doesn't let me."

The fundraising challenge aimed to raise £130,000 across the company, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary, in five days.

From Monday to today (Friday), Gleeds’ 56 international offices came together to hold local fundraising events that are anticipated to touch over 80 different charities all over the world.

Teams from Gleeds’ offices in Warrington and Whitehaven joined forces to host a charity triathlon around Windermere.

Sixty-five fundraisers from Gleeds, who are usually desk-bound, put their stamina and fitness levels to the test by running, cycling, swimming or canoeing around Windermere.

Gleeds director Stuart Ball, who championed the triathlon fundraiser, said: “We’ve been training flat-out since January, practicing together during lunch-breaks and after work. Not only is it rewarding to know that we’re helping support two very worthy causes, the challenge has also had an incredible impact on morale, it’s really brought people together.

"I wasn't sure if we were going to be lucky enough to have Steve join in but once it was confirmed sponsorship increased massively and partners all wanted to join in. Having him with us is great for team morale."