'Inspirational' Telford rowers hailed as challenge edges closer

A charity has hailed four "inspirational" rowers who are racing across the Atlantic as their monumental challenge edges closer.

SHREWS COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 30/11/2020 - Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge - Four men from Shropshire are taking part in next year's Atlantic Challenge. They will row 3000 miles from Canary Islands to Antigua and raise money for Severn Hospice, as well as RNIB. In Picture L>R: Stuart Shepherd, Martin Skehan, Stuart Richards and Gary Richards..
SHREWS COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 30/11/2020 - Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge - Four men from Shropshire are taking part in next year's Atlantic Challenge. They will row 3000 miles from Canary Islands to Antigua and raise money for Severn Hospice, as well as RNIB. In Picture L>R: Stuart Shepherd, Martin Skehan, Stuart Richards and Gary Richards..

The Wrekin Rowers, a team of four men from Telford and Wrekin, are set to race 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in December for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge.

In a bid to raise £100,000 for two charities, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Severn Hospice, they will be rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua for between 45 and 50 days.

Stuart Richards, 52, is one of the four team members and is registered blind due to being diagnosed with Leber Optic Neuropathy over 25 years ago.

A user of RNIB’s Talking Books service, Stuart said: “We wanted to donate to charities that were close to our hearts. Since I lost my sight, RNIB has always been supportive. If there is anything that I need help with and don’t necessarily want to ask a friend or family member, RNIB is my first port of call.”

Stuart, a manual labourer, is keen not to let his sight loss stop him from conquering the Atlantic and has been training every day to prepare mentally and physically for the big race.

He said: “We’re hoping to finish in 45 to 50 days but it’s very weather-dependent, plus we’re one of the eldest to race this year as we’re all between the ages of 52 and 60.

“I think the biggest challenge will be combatting the feeling of isolation, the juxtaposition from a small and confined cabin to a large and spacious ocean might be difficult. But my team is brilliant and I’m happy I get to do it with them.”

Lizzi Wagner, RNIB senior challenge events manager, said: “The Wrekin Rowers are truly inspirational and we’re so grateful that they have chosen to take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge in support of RNIB.

“The money the Wrekin Rowers raise will help us make every day better for people living with sight loss here in the UK, as well as continuing to break down barriers that still exist in society. Please dig deep and support their fundraising efforts.”

Wrekin Rowers will be splitting the money they raise between RNIB and Severn Hospice.

The team will be starting the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing challenge on 12 December 2021. To help the inspiring rowers reach their fundraising target and support RNIB, please donate at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/WrekinRowers, or for more information visit their website wrekin-rowers.com/

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