Two friends have reached dry land in triumph after spending 50 days crossing the mighty Atlantic in a small rowing boat – to raise money for JDRF.
Alex Bland and Harry Martin-Dreyer finally reached the coast of Barbados on Saturday 1 February, after setting off from Gran Canaria on 12 December last year and facing a host of dangers along the way.
They witnessed pods of dolphins, schools of whales, sharks and flying fish – the latter causing hilarity on board as both men experienced a direct hit to the face whilst rowing. They also lost most of their excess body fat and grew beards of varying quality!
The pair, who both hail from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, left their jobs in the City to take on the challenge and have raised over £137,000 for both JDRF and Cure Leukaemia.
Their thoughts and feelings have made for a tantalizing read via their regular blog updates along the way.
Alex and Harry celebrated Christmas and New Year on board ‘Alexandra’, their two man boat named after Harry’s mother who sadly passed away in March last year from leukaemia. Alex’s brother Ross lives with type 1 diabetes. These personal stories were what compelled them to take on the waves and embark on this remarkable test of human endurance.
Their progress has been steady, but not without perils and unforgettable experiences. Massive waves they have nicknamed ‘sidewinders’ battered and bruised them mentally and physically. Blisters, sores, extreme heat, exhaustion and mind-numbing boredom tested their strengths to the limit but never broke their will to complete the crossing.
Both men saw the solitude and magnificence of the open Atlantic Ocean in all its beauty, stating that: “In our everyday lives few of us have the luxury of time and beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy complete unadulterated contemplation.”
Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Harry and Alex have proved themselves phenomenal fundraisers as well as athletes. Among the long list of heroic challenges that people have undertaken to support type 1 diabetes research, this stands out as something truly exceptional. Their magnificent journey will take us closer to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, a condition which affects 400,000 people in the UK alone. We are deeply thankful.”
To see how our heroic rowers have gone from strength to strength, you can watch this insightful video, filmed last year during their initial training period. The messages of support they received during their crossing came from far and wide, and these have been a constant comfort for them both.
Harry and Alex are looking to raise £150,000 in total. It is still not too late to make a donation and catch up on their remarkable voyage via www.rowing4research.com.