A west Dorset adventurer who has raised thousands for good causes is facing his biggest challenge yet — a 6,000-mile solo kayaking journey.

While most people put their feet up when they retire, Royal Navy veteran and former ambulance service worker Steve Chard is marking it with a marathon mission through North America’s coastal and inland waterways.

The challenge will take more than a year to complete.

Mr Chard, who grew up in Bridport, says his fundraising adventures are going out with a bang as he aims to simultaneously raise cash for four charities with the kayaking mission. They are Walking With The Wounded, Weldmar Hospicecare Trust, Kidney Research UK and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance.

Mr Chard, 60, who retired from his job as emergency care assistant with South Western Ambulance Service last September, set off from Halifax harbour, Nova Scotia, last week.

His route will take him to the St Lawrence River, through Ottawa, along the mighty Mississippi River to Florida and up the Eastern Seaboard.

He hopes to complete his journey arriving back in Halifax by the end of September 2019.

Mr Chard has raised about £20,000 since taking up charity fundraising seriously 12 years ago by running marathons and swimming and cycling great distances.

He said of his kayak challenge: “This is my way of celebrating retirement.

“It’s an extreme challenge and I’m not a professional kayaker. But I’m someone who has always loved to kayak on the water off the Dorset coast and I’ve trained hard over the last 12 months.”

He added: “It’s a big challenge, but one I’m planning to complete in about 15 months.

“I’m carrying everything I need for the trip, including food and tent, in my kayak.”

Mr Chard served in the Royal Navy for 13 years and was also a volunteer bandsman. He then worked at the Admiralty Research Establishment on Portland before becoming a self-employed clothes salesman in west Dorset.

He later took up a job as a health care assistant in the renal unit at Dorset County Hospital before joining South Western Ambulance, working at Bridport and Dorchester.

He grew up in Bridport, attending Colfox School, and now lives in Piddletrenthide.

Mr Chard is a member of the Volunteer Wessex Military Band, St Swithuns Band, Bridport and Weymouth Concert Brass.

You can follow his progress on his Facebook page kayakthegreatloop – paddlewithsteve