A SPONSORED transatlantic row to raise money for wounded soldiers has hit its £1 million target thanks to Henley’s River and Rowing Museum.
Earlier this year, four disabled servicemen and two able-bodied colleagues rowed 3,000 miles from the African coast to Barbados in a challenge called Row2Recovery.
All six attended a celebratory dinner hosted by the museum on Monday, where items of memorabilia including their boat — a specially-adapted fours vessel — were auctioned.
The event raised more than £70,000, which was enough to push the campaign past its target.
The museum will be able to keep the boat until December as part of an exhibition on the epic voyage.
The exhibition also includes video footage from the 51-day voyage, information panels on each of the rowers and items including a rudder that broke, forcing the crew to undergo emergency repairs. Paddy Nicholl, chairman of the museum trustees, was in Barbados to see the boat arrive at Port St Charles in January.
He said: “It’s an extraordinary privilege for us to be able to host this but it’s also a compliment that they were happy for us to do it. The museum has made great strides to become internationally recognised in the field of rowing and I think this goes some way to consolidating that.”
The dinner was attended by 75 people including Olympic rower and Row2Recovery supporter Alex Gregory, who won a gold medal in the GB men’s coxless four at the Olympics this summer. Also present was museum president Lord Camoys and his wife and museum benefactor Sir Martyn Arbib and his wife. Money raised by the group’s efforts will be split between forces charities Help For Heroes, SSAFA Forces Help and The Soldiers’ Charity.
Gregory, who lives in Henley, has been following the crew since they staged a million-metre row on Horse Guards Parade in London last year.
He said: “I’m really inspired by them. It’s a real pleasure to be involved and come to celebrations like these. From talking to the team members, it’s fascinating what they went through. I’m really looking forward to reading the book that they’re working on.
“It’s brilliant that Henley is hosting the exhibition and I really encourage people to come down, have a look at the boat and read all about what they’ve done.”
The boat 9m (29.5ft) boat has electonic navigation and a radio powered by solar panels.
Only three of the crew were able to fit into the cabin at once, while the other three continued to row. They took turns rowing three-hour shifts throughout the journey.
Three of them are amputees. One of them lost both legs in Iraq following a suicide bombing in 2004 and another suffered a shattered femur in a rocket attack.