FOUR amputee soldiers who rowed across the Atlantic say completing the challenge was the best moment of their
FOUR amputee soldiers who rowed across the Atlantic say completing the challenge was the best moment of their lives.
L Cpl Cayle Royce, Guardsman Paddy Gallagher, Fl Sgt Nigel Rogoff and C Sgt Lee Spencer arrived at English Harbour in Antigua 46 days after setting off from the Canary Islands.
They had battled storms, injury and illness on the 3,000-mile voyage.
The men were taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to raise money for the Henley charity Row2Recovery, which helps injured servicemen.
Known as the “Legless Rowers”, all four have had one or both legs amputated following attacks or accidents.
The men were greeted at the finish by hundreds of people and a 10-gun salute as they became the first all-amputee crew to complete the challenge.
L Cpl Royce, who had both his legs amputated in 2012 after being injured while serving in Afghanistan, said: “We are all so chuffed to have accomplished it.
“I hope we can encourage others and show there is life beyond injury.
“When we rowed into English Harbour we were staggered at how many people there were.
“The whole harbour was filled with people shouting and screaming. It was the best moment of our lives.
“We were completely surprised by the support. I had done the race before and had a couple of followers so I knew we would get some but I had no idea it would be as bonkers as it is.
“We were humbled by the amount of support. It was also pretty emotional for the guys, knowing we were going to have a clean bed and shower.”
L Cpl Royce skippered a Row2Recovery crew which completed the same challenge in 2013 but he said this was as a completely different Â experience.
He said: “My first crossing was the roughest I’ve ever known and I didn’t get out of my wet weather gear.
“This time I wore it for just four days as we only had a couple of storms. The crew was different because it was four guys unable to stand up on the boat, which added a whole new element to the adventure.
“Things like going to the toilet were a lot more difficult but we made it work.
“Having not been on a boat before, I don’t think the guys realised what they had got involved in but they were brilliant. They just got on with it and rowed their guts out. A couple of them are saying they will never do something like this again but I’m hoping I can convince them Â otherwise.”
Row2Recovery supports the development of military para-rowing in partnership with British Rowing.
It is supported by the Endeavour Fund, created by Prince Harry and the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The crew were also raising money for the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association, Help for Heroes and the Endeavour Fund.
Since arriving back on land, the men have spent time with their families and friends, many of whom were at the finish line to greet them.
Prince Harry called to congratulate them on their achievement.
L Cpl Royce, whose girlfriend Olivia Shanahan lives in Henley, said: “It was great to see her after two months and then the call from Harry came. He’s the face of the Endeavour Fund and a really amazing guy.
“We are grateful that he had a chat with us and he told us we did well.”
L Cpl Royce is already preparing for his next challenge, which is to attempt to row the Pacific Ocean next year, also for Row2Recovery.
To make a donation, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/row2recovery