Rowers’ £35,000 Channel triumph

Seven fearless fundraisers have seen off the challenge of a lifetime by rowing to France to raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

The intrepid crew – all but one complete novices – trained flat out for six months to build up enough strength to tackle the daunting feat.

And they lived up to their team name, the Oarsome Seven, by not only powering their way across the English Channel but also smashing their cash target and raising more than £35,000.

Braving choppy seas, and a strong tide that swept them miles off course, they reached the French coast in just over five hours.

The gruelling trip was the idea of insurance broker James Allen from Bures. He wanted to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Breakthrough Breast Cancer because his father has MND, and his sister is battling an aggressive form of cancer.

He recruited six friends – Charlie Alexander, James Erith, Oliver Lister, Mark Shennan. Crispin Clay and Toby Colls – all 40-ish and built, by their own admission, for comfort rather than speed.

Gale force winds scuppered their plan to row the 24 miles from Dover to Calais in a Cornish gig at the end of May. But a week later conditions in the world’s busiest shipping lane were calm enough to go ahead.

“The hard work we put in paid off but certainly the challenge is not for the faint hearted,” said Mr Allen.

See this Thursday’s Free Press for the full story.