St Ives rowers to cross Channel twice for Help for Heroes

A TEAM of rowers plans to tackle water, waves and one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes – TWICE – to raise money for injured soldiers.

St Ives Rowing Club members Ben Bolton, Oliver Robinson, Chris Newland and Jonathan Dolby are rowing to France and back in the summer as a fundraiser for Help for Heroes.

The group is borrowing a coastal double skull from the military for the challenge in June.

The first leg will be rowed by Ben, 30, who used to be in the army, and Olly, 29, who was in the navy. They will leave the White Cliffs to row the 21-mile trip across the Channel to Calais.

The more experienced rowers Chris, 45, and John, 49, will take the ferry over and then row the three-hour trip back the next day.

Ben said: “We thought of challenging ourselves and looked at the Channel.

“Having served in Afghanistan, I wouldn’t say it’s the toughest challenge. I’m used to being at sea in my job, but it will be hard.

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“With the strong currents you don’t know whether it will be in a straight line or a horseshoe which will add to the mileage. I saw a bit of the John Bishop challenge as he rowed across for Sport Relief, so we know what we are up for.”

Jonathan said that it was not the distance that bothered him, but he might have to conquer another fear before taking on the challenge.

“I get terribly sea-sick. One look at the sea makes my stomach iffy,” he added. “Ben and Oliver came up with the idea after seeing cross-Atlantic rowing articles in a magazine. They then came up with the idea of the boat being rowed back.

“It takes more organisation than you might think – telling the coastguards, both here and in France, and you need a support boat.”

INFORMATION: You can donate money to the team by dropping it in to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon. Cheques made payable to Help for Heroes.