Boat is blessed ahead of epic challenge across the Atlantic

A special service was held to bless a boat which will carry a blind veteran on his journey across the Atlantic.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 5th July 2021, 10:00 am
Steve Rees, centre, with Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy and Blyth Town Council Mayor Margaret Richardson at the blessing.
Steve Rees, centre, with Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy and Blyth Town Council Mayor Margaret Richardson at the blessing.

As revealed in last week's News Post Leader, Steve Rees is aiming to set three world records as part of a bid to row across the Atlantic.

He is part of a four-man crew – all of whom are veterans – who are taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December 2022.

They are part of Team Emotive, who will be rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua for the challenge, raising money for the charity Veterans at Ease in the process.

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Steve Lees (left) with Team Emotive crewmates Jason Watkin and Garreth Murrell.

And last Friday he was joined by his Team Emotive teammates for a special service at St Cuthbert’s Church in Blyth.

They were joined by dignitaries and special guests to bless their boat – Oadrey – ahead of its mammoth challenge next year.

Among those who attended was Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy who said: “I was honoured to take part in the blessing of 'Oardrey' at St Cuthbert's Church in Blyth.

"It was a pleasure to catch up again with those involved.

“The four veterans, including Steve who is registered blind, will have to endure at least 50 days on the ocean and collectively will make 3 million plus oarstrokes.

“An incredible challenge by an incredible team.”

Steve, who is aiming to become the first and fastest blind veteran to row across the Atlantic, said: “This is all about raising awareness of Veterans at Ease and their work, and veterans who may be struggling with their mental health.

"We as soldiers are asked to go to war but it never leaves the soldier so it’s about dealing with that afterwards, that is one of the things we’re highlighting.”

Team Emotive – made up of Garreth Murrell, Jason Watkin and Chris Hardy – will be joining other competitors in setting off from the Canary Islands on December 22, 2022, and aiming to complete the 3,000 unaided in around 50 days – a total of three million oar strokes.

The quartet will be rowing two hours on and two hours off, burning more than 8,000 calories a day.

For more information visit the Team Emotive Facebook page or website from July 6.