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Wednesday, 09 April 2014
Chase your dreams, make it happen, nobody else will do it for you! This was the strong message given to Sixth Form boys during a truly inspirational assembly from Mark Brocklehurst, who recently rowed the Atlantic.
Mark sits on the Board of the Bolton Lads and Girls Club, which is the country’s largest youth club with over 2,000 members. It offers somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to for local children. The Club offers a much-copied Junior Mentoring Programme for children aged 8-12 years but when Mark learnt that there were 149 young people on the waiting list, he determined to row the Atlantic and raise funds for this cause. The initial target was to raise £250,000 which in his own words the four man crew “battered” by raising £275,000.
Reliving the experience, he said the 55 days at sea were undoubtedly the toughest of his life. The rowers spent 2 hours rowing, 2 hours sleeping in a cramped 29ft boat in some very rough conditions as they rowed 3,000 miles totally unsupported from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. The achievement was all the more impressive as Mark, aged 52, had no rowing experience. That aside, the crew trained hard and went into the race believing they could win it. In the end they were delighted to finish at all and pleased with their 8th place out of 16 teams.
The race, which began in mid-November last year, certainly lived up to its billing of “the world’s toughest rowing race” and the crew really had to dig in during the Festive period as they were buffeted in high seas. Mark told the students about the pain and misery they endured as the developed boils and blisters that worsened in the stinging salt water. He felt the boys would all be capable of doing the rowing but stressed it is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. For 12 scary hours during the trip, when it was really rough, they felt they would not be coming back at all! Mark also paid tribute to Old Girl Rachel Flanders, who rowed in the same race a few years ago and, still a 17-year old schoolgirl at the time, became the youngest person ever to do it!
He finished by reminding the boys that, ultimately, life teaches you that doing something to help others is more important than doing something for money and it is voluntary work that gives you the most pleasure in life.
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