Intrepid fund-raisers have completed an epic six-week rowing challenge around Great Britain, in memory of a friend who died of a brain haemorrhage.
The team of four, which includes skipper Wim Stevenson, 28, from Alnwick, finished their gruelling journey yesterday, when they arrived at London's Tower Bridge.
The hardy group, known as The Rough Ready Row crew, took on the challenge in aid of the Natalie Kate Moss (NKM) Trust, set up in honour of their dear friend who died, aged 26.
The team - which also includes Andrew Mason, 27, from Barnard Castle; Fred Moore, 25, from Richmond, North Yorkshire; and Kyle Booysens, 25, from York - left Tower Bridge on June 3, and they rowed close to 1,850 miles to complete the challenge.
The journey was fraught with problems and setbacks, making their achievement all the more remarkable.
Their first major upset was on the ninth day when they were forced inland to fetch fresh water after their water maker broke. When it couldn’t be repaired, they chose to resume their row and carry 120 litres of fresh water on their boat. It meant that they had to abandon their Guinness World Record attempt - to complete the challenge in less than 26 days, nine hours, nine minutes and four seconds.
The extra weight on board – equivalent to having another person on board – was to tax them even more, for the next four weeks. The castors on the seats broke, they lost various items overboard – but luckily no crew or oars! – and were driven to exhaustion by the challenge lasting two weeks longer than they initially planned. They eventually ran out of food and supplies – with at least one mobile phone suffering an unspeakable fate in the loo bucket!
The final week saw them battle Force 7 winds which pushed them back and prolonged their agony. With the coast in sight for 80 per cent of the time, the temptation to
end was strong some days.
During the journey, the crew also tackled the most dangerous and fast turning tides on the planet, crossed the world’s busiest sea lanes and avoided heavy shipping including car ferries and industrial fishing trawlers.
Despite all of the challenges they faced, they battled on in aid of the NKM Trust. The crew is aiming to raise £100,000 to help the Trust support brain-injured youngsters through university and continue vital new research into brain haemorrhage.
They said: "The setbacks were definitely low points, but we've been able to work through them together and turn them into positives. One of our main difficulties was being in a confined space. Had all been well, we would have been home two weeks earlier, but instead we had to dig deep and push on.”
Now safely back on dry land, the crew was quick to thank the family, friends and social media followers for their support.
“We were really encouraged by the words of support and surprised by just how much is out there,” said the boys. “We haven’t met our target yet and hope that people will realise how tough it was for us for 40 days and feel able to donate to the Natalie Kate Moss Trust.”
Throughout their brutal journey, they had the reassurance of the British and Irish Coastguard who had their back all the way round.
The team said: “The coastguard have been nothing less than awesome: we are truly grateful for their round-the- clock awareness of us and their support of our challenge. They were our Guardian Angels: in radio contact all the time. We knew they were there and had the reassurance if we needed them they’d be there. It was like having a bigger brother to look after us. And we found out about Brexit from the Scottish Coastguard!”
The Natalie Kate Moss Trust was set up in 2012 in honour of Natalie. The Trust is working in partnership with Manchester University in two ways. Firstly it supports students who have suffered a brain injury to complete a degree course at the University. The first two students on the programme will graduate this summer and another five are due to start in September, thanks to the NKM Trust funding. Secondly, the Trust is helping to fund ground-breaking research into new treatments for Stroke and, significantly, its prevention.
Click here to donate to the cause.