A Birmingham hospital security guard is sailing through the credit crunch with his innovative way of getting to work.

Gary Woodhouse has ditched his car and now paddles six miles in a kayak up the canal network from his home in West Bromwich to work at City Hospital, in Winson Green.

But the move is helping him save plenty of pennies as he no longer has to splash out on cash for petrol – apart from when the Birmingham Canal freezes over.

Every working day, Gary carries his kayak to the section of canal near his home in Hill Top and then follows the waterway through the Soho Loop to the back of the hospital, in Dudley Road.

He then has enough time to grab a quick shower before changing into his security guard uniform to carry out his patrols.

And at the end of the day, he returns along the same canal stretch for his return journey.

Gary, a former Army canoe training instructor who learned how to canoe when he was at school, said it only takes him 50 minutes to paddle his way to work, just 15 minutes longer than if he drove through inner city traffic.

“By the time you get home you are completely de-stressed and it helps beat the credit crunch as I’m not using any petrol,” said Gary.

“It’s also a lot quieter than taking the car at that time of the day. I’ve only passed one canal barge since January.

“Cycling the 6.7 miles takes me 25 minutes, the car takes 35 minutes, running takes 45 minutes and paddling is 50 minutes, but my favourite is definitely paddling especially when the weather is nice.”

He added: “If you live and work close to the canals and have somewhere to store a boat, it is a great way to get about. Canoeing is also a low impact sport which can be done at almost any age.”

Gary started working at the hospital in September when he took up the daily commute by canoe as it also helps him train for the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race – the world’s longest kayak race – on April 10.

He is set to compete in the 125-mile race along with a fellow member of the Wolverhampton Canoe Club, paddling in a two-man kayak, to raise money Cancer Research UK after his sister beat the disease.

The credit crunch has started making drivers and commuters on public transport think twice about ways of making savings through cycling, walking or running to work. There are many fitness benefits to kayaking too as it improves flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, body fat reduction and exercises the heart.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Gary should contact him in on 07960 024878 or for more information about taking up canoeing and joining a club visit: www.wolverhamptoncanoeclub.co.uk