This time next year, Martin Skehan will have swapped his test room for the Atlantic Ocean as he takes on the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
The Wrekin Rowers
Martin (59), an optometrist at Specsavers Wellington, will be attempting the gruelling 3,000-mile rowing race as part of a team of four, named the Wrekin Rowers - in a bid to raise £100,000 for two charities: Severn Hospice and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Although always a keen rower, this will be the first time that Martin will have taken on a challenge so epic – which will see him and his three friends battle the elements for around 45 days of round the clock rowing, across the second-largest ocean in the world.
Martin will be joined by Stuart Shepherd (56) and brothers Stuart (51) and Gary Richards (54) who are all members of the Shropshire Adventure Rowing Club (SARC).
A word from Martin
‘The challenge is two-fold really,’ comments Martin. ‘Firstly, there’s the race, a journey of the unknown which will undoubtedly demand not only our utmost physical fitness but mental attitude too. Then there’s our pledge to raise £100,000 for the two charities, both of which are very close to our hearts.
‘As a team, each of us has been touched in some way by the hospice – which does such fantastic work around our local area and beyond. While the RNIB is particularly relevant to me, as an optician, but also to Stuart Richards as he’s registered as sight impaired. Over the years he’s had tremendous support from the charity and is keen to give something back.’
A word from the Severn Hospice Area fundraiser
Jess Druce, Severn Hospice Area fundraiser, says, ‘We are so proud of the Wrekin Rowers and we are so grateful to them for their support. We are proud that we were able to be there for them when they needed us most, but this really does go above and beyond giving something back to us.
‘Martin and the rest of the crew have a huge challenge ahead of them, they will be battling 20ft high waves, seasickness and blisters and we really do wish them all the best. We will be keeping track of them over the next 12 months and cheering them on along the way – what they are doing is just oar-some.’
A word from the RNIB’s Senior Challenge Events Manager
Lizzi Wagner, RNIB’s Senior Challenge Events Manager, adds, ‘Martin and the team are absolute superstars and we’re very proud and grateful to have them aboard Team RNIB. This is an extraordinary challenge and the money they raise will help fund vital services to support people with sight loss across the UK.
‘It’s especially exciting that one of the crew members, Stuart Richards, who is partially sighted himself, is helping to show that with the right support there should be no limits or barriers to what people with sight loss can achieve.
‘A huge thank you to the Wrekin Rowers from everyone at RNIB.’
The team have already begun training for the race, which starts on 12 December 2021, with indoor rowing sessions during lockdown restrictions and river and lake rows when allowed. In the spring of next year their boat will move to the Welsh coast to allow for sea training.
The Wrekin Rowers have bought the boat, called the Noah SARC, themselves and self-funded the trip, so any money they do raise will go directly to their chosen charities.
How to donate
Anyone who would like to donate to the fundraiser can text the word Atlantic to 70520 to donate £10 or Atlantic5 to donate £5. Alternatively, people can go donate online.