May 2022

During Mental Health awareness week, an eclectic team of six adventurers with a range of different ages, rowing experience and physical abilities embarked on an epic quest to row the world’s busiest shipping lane: the infamous English Channel.

The six team members included Darren Edwards, Colin Hayton, Harry Thomas, Nick Beighton, Sally Orange and Louis Alexander, with a unique background between them of world first endurance challenges, hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for charity and a Paralympic medal from the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

Setting off from Dover Marina on Monday 9th March in their Cornish gig, the team successfully completed the 23 mile row in 5 and a half hours. During their gruelling row, the team found themselves surrounded by 5 shipping vessels, with no choice but to row on and commit to their promise to raise vital funds and awareness for Mental Health charities.

The team was lead by adventurer Darren Edwards, who last year completed a record-breaking and world first expedition, Kayak 4 Heroes, which saw him lead a team of five injured/wounded veterans in kayaking 1,400 kilometres from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’ Groats in Scotland. 

Speaking about the reason for taking on this challenge, Darren explained: “the ‘Rowing for Mental Health Challenge’ came about following the passing of my father, Ray Edwards, who lost his battle with mental health in September 2021. My father and I had a connection through rowing, and it would be a time I’d see him once a week as I rowed along the River Severn through Shrewsbury. The concept of rowing the English Channel came about as a way of raising funds for mental health charities, in the hope that, whilst it was too late to save my Dad, we might be able to raise enough money to help others overcome their battle with mental health.’

The youngest member of the team was 22-year-old adventurer and endurance athlete, Louis Alexander, who earlier this year completed 17 marathons in 17 consecutive days. Speaking about their experience, Louis said: “we saw dolphins, seals and shipping containers during our journey; experiencing this from a tiny Cornish gig definitely offered an unconventional yet incredible experience!”

The team have so far raised over £5,000 for two Mental Health charities: Ripple Suicide Prevention and Shropshire Mental Health Service.