London 2 Paris Rowing Challenge

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After an accident on the Thames in September last year which left them swimming for their lives, a team of 12 men from the South of England, known as The Reivers12 have carried on training for The London 2 Paris Rowing Challenge in May with grit determination to raise £100,000 for two children’s charities.

The race will take the crew from Big Ben, along the River Thames, across the English Channel and up the Seine to the Eiffel tower, a distance of 480 miles, using an old-fashioned ‘cutter’. There will be no modern rowing technology for them – the cutter is simply made of wood and fibreglass and rowing will be very hard work!

A story hit the national headlines in September last year when seven members of the crew had to swim for their lives after their craft was struck by a 125ft catamaran during one of their early  38 mile training runs from Richmond to and from Tower Bridge. The crew of a passing Metropolitan police launch witnessed the accident and were on the scene in seconds to pluck the rowers to safety. An RNLI lifeboat was also launched and reached the scene in minutes. Rescuers said the crew members were lucky to be alive – there was only one serious injury. The men, now a 14 strong contingent of 12 rowers and two reserves, captained by Mike Hosie from Farnham, have acquired a replacement cutter and are now heading for the most intensive period of training which includes all-weekend rowing sessions at Hayling Island throughout March. They will then be back on the Thames throughout April in the run up to the race.

The 2010 London 2 Paris Rowing Challenge will start on the morning of Sunday May 9 and should finish at about 8am the following Saturday, May 15. The key factor that dictates these dates is the need to row the tidal section of the Seine (from Le Havre to Rouen) in daylight and with the tide.  Although the men have very different backgrounds and a variety of reasons for signing up for this gruelling challenge, they all share a sense of adventure and a desire to raise over £100,000 for their two chosen charities, CHASE hospice care for children and Children with Leukaemia.

CHASE supports families with children and young people not expected to live into adulthood, throughout South West London, Surrey and Sussex in their homes and communities and at the CHASE children’s hospice. CHASE has to raise £4 million every year to maintain this vital service. In addition to raising money from race sponsorship, the crew is organising a host of different fundraising activities in the run up to the race. See their website for details – www.reivers12.co.uk where there is also a link to the Virgin Giving website, an easy way to sponsor the team.

A dinner organised by Reivers12 at Charterhouse school in December with 124 guests invited by members of the rowing team was a huge success. Each crew member hosted a table and Fergus Slattery, Ireland and Lions rugby legend gave an after dinner speech. Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan took part in a question and answer session with the audience.

The evening, which included a raffle and auction, raised £24,300. The money will be shared with one third each going towards challenge expenses, one third to CHASE and one third to Children with Leukaemia. The evening was sponsored by Collins Stewart, reception by Aviance and wine by Imbibros.

To find out more about CHASE visit www.chasecare.org.uk

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