A NORTH EAST council has backed a former Olympic canoe coach who is using his love of water and a forthcoming meeting of world leaders to raise awareness of climate change.

Cllr Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, agreed the signal flags Whisky and Echo could be flown outside of Hartlepool Civic Centre last week during the COP26 Conference in Glasgow.

The request was made by David Train, who was born in Stockton and has spent years calling on world leaders to sign his Paddle for Life – a wooden canoe paddle which he is hoping to use a symbol to spread his message.

He is hoping his Paddle for Life project will be completed in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and as part of the project, he is hoping to create a regatta before every Olympics.

Mr Train, who has also asked other council leaders across the Tees Valley to do the same, chose the flags to spell out WE because ''we the United Kingdom, knowing that WE have an emergency are changing course to avoid a catastrophe".

He said: "Hartlepool did a great job on Friday and I think that they have set up a great story for Tees Valley.

"Whatever people think of Boris, as we approach the end of COP26 he is the key player in creating that success. We need to get back to focussing on getting a gold medal at COP26. If Boris raises the WE flags under the Union flag over 1O, Downing Street immediately we have a chance of getting back on course."

Mr Train spent 12 years as a Great Britain Olympic canoe coach and helped the teams who competed at the Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta games between 1984 and 1996.

He was responsible for designing the first Bell Boat, which helps to encourage people to take up water sports.

Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May have all signed his paddle, as well as former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, European leaders and numerous Tees Valley politicians.

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