Hi, I am Mark Rowe, the guy responsible for the concept of 4 middle aged men embarking on this challenge, and what a challenge it promises to be!
As a recreational paddler with a large open canoe for the family, I’m no stranger to the water and for several years I’ve fancied the idea of gently paddling some of the UK’s longer rivers as an experience.
You know the sort of thing, drop in somewhere with the sun on your back, paddle for an hour pull over for a pub lunch, have a few, set up camp, light the fire and relax.
So, god only knows how we managed to agree to do the whole of the river Thames in 4 days then cycle home from London to Lincolnshire… but we have, and that is just what we will do.
I’ll be 44 when the challenge takes place, hopefully in July 2021 as organised (and hopefully not delayed due to the pandemic). I’m a self-employed family man with an amazing wife and 2 amazing children who are everything to me. As a father I’ve always wanted my kids to healthy and happy and to create the best support around them as they grow to keep them safe.
Thankfully, we are all in good health, we are active and can enjoy a relatively normal life. But unfortunately, there are families out there less fortunate than ours with children that are in need or are reliant on the best medical facilities available to save, prolong or change their lives for the better.
To provide much needed facilities for these children and support the parents of such families requires a lot of fundraising, and as a loving father this is one of 2 reasons, we are giving it our all to raise as much funds as possible.
The charities we have chosen to support are ones that we have proudly supported previously, The Naomi Fund, (which provides financial support for Great Ormond Street, Heartlink Glenfield, and The Kingfisher Ward & Community Team in Grantham) and Diabetes in the UK
So, the Challenge is clear, 160miles of kayaking down the Thames, then 150 miles of cycling home, uphill! Well, it will feel uphill as were heading North! Its going to be tough, real tough and I’m looking forward to finding my physical limit as I’ve not yet reached it in the last 44 years. However, 15 months ago, I did reach my mental limit and honestly, that’s not a nice thing. Luckily for me I have the support of my amazing family to help me deal with that, but again not everyone is as fortunate.
Having personally dealt with the horrors of mental health and suicide, I have friends that suffer and have suffered due to poor mental health and even as I write this, I find myself connected with someone else who just this week have lost someone to suicide. With 2020 being such an awful year with everything going on with the pandemic and the effect on people’s mental health I want to raise awareness.
Suicide is a significant national social issue in the United Kingdom. In 2019 there were 5,691 registered deaths by suicide in England & Wales, equating to an average of 18 suicides per day in the country. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the country.
This fact alone is shocking, and I would urge anyone not to ignore it, look out for each other encourage people to talk #itsoknottobeok do not be ashamed if you are struggling. Talk to someone, please.
The aim of our journey is to raise as many funds for our chosen charities as possible, to raise awareness and promote positive mental health, to engage with our followers to make people smile. If what we are doing helps 1 person, just 1 or has a positive effect on someone’s day. No matter how painful it is, it’s all been worthwhile!