At 10am, on Saturday February 1st, 50 days after setting off from Gran Canaria, two friends from Shropshire arrived safe and sound in Barbados after rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, completing their Rowing 4 Research challenge.
Harry Martin-Dreyer and Alex Bland left their successful London jobs to take on one of the most physically and mentally draining tests of human endurance to raise money for Birmingham based charity Cure Leukaemia and JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity.
Family and friends travelled out to the Caribbean island to give the intrepid duo, who have negotiated treacherous waves, sores, blisters, extreme heat, exhaustion, boredom and sharks, a magnificent welcome. The boys have received tremendous support throughout their voyage with thousands of emails, tweets and good luck messages and they have kept their followers up-to-date with their progress with weekly blogs and even a festive photo on Christmas Day!
Despite the obvious travails they faced on the vast and unforgiving seas, they managed to keep their sense of humour and have been able to appreciate the enormity of their achievement, “I think both of us are in agreement that this experience has challenged us in more ways than we could have ever imagined and the predominant sense of excitement that we now feel is combined with a great sense of relief. Relief that all the things that could have gone wrong have not and relief that, where numerous others have failed, we have succeeded” stated Alex in their final blog.
On arriving, both Alex and Harry were wobbling on their feet and walking into pillars as they acclimatized to the stability of dry land. Harry said,
“the sensation is a little like jet lag with so much going on around us but seems very separate, it is a huge relief to not have to do any more rowing and I cant wait to sleep in a bed. A huge thank you to everyone at Port St Charles for making it such a special arrival, your burgers are the best!”
Alex followed him with,
“It’s quite surreal to be on dry land once again and the reception we have received in unbelievable as is the knowledge that we have made it 3000 miles in a rowing boat – although I’ve been told I might have to do it again having failed to catch a fish.”
Their Rowing 4 Research challenge, sponsored by London’s Hotel Rafayel, has raised over £141,000 for the two charities. The boys named the boat ‘Alexandra’ after Harry’s mother, who was treated by Cure Leukaemia’s co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and who sadly passed away in March last year. Alex’s brother, Ross, suffers from type 1 diabetes hence the reasons behind their chosen charities.
There has been plenty of interest across the media with coverage in the London Evening Standard, a mention on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio Two breakfast show, live interviews from the boat on BBC Radio WM and weekly updates in the Shropshire Star. Ben Fogle, who completed his own Atlantic crossing with James Cracknell in 2005, sent a message support and they also received video messages from Warwickshire and England cricketer Jonathan Trott and Cure Leukaemia Patron and England One-Day International coach Ashley Giles.
James McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Cure Leukaemia said,
“We have the utmost admiration for Harry and Alex. Their drive and determination to complete this remarkable challenge is truly inspirational for everyone connected with Cure Leukaemia.
The money they have raised will significantly help give leukaemia patients across the West Midlands hope as we continue our efforts to help find a cure for this terrible disease. On behalf of the charity I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks for their staggering efforts.”
Stay tuned for photos and more reaction from Barbados!
To show your support for Harry and Alex please donate and click here
WATCH: Harry and Alex become Patrons of Cure Leukaemia following their epic challenge