What on earth would persuade 14 women, all mothers, all over the age of 42 (most of us over the age of 50), with no rowing experience, to row the Channel?
It may have been the January effect: too much Christmas pudding and the need for a challenge.
But mostly it was the inspiration of the AHOY Centre, a Deptford-based charity which changes the lives of disadvantaged young people and people with disabilities through sailing and rowing activities.
The AHOY provides opportunities for disadvantaged and disabled youngsters and adults to get out on the water and get world-class qualifications. In the words of one 15 year old, if he wasn’t at The AHOY he’d be "hanging around street corners – getting into trouble with the police – drinking… Being at The AHOY has given me more confidence and I can now speak to anyone plus I’ve also made lots of friends."
He’s already qualified as an RYA assistant instructor and is looking forward to a career in the watersports industry as a senior instructor.
Another 16 year old commented: "I was very shy when I first started and now I’m confident and AHOY’s helped me achieve a mature outlook… I’m trying to get my brother down here too. It’s given me great opportunities and teaches me skills I can use outside the centre."
We’ll be rowing two Waterman’s Cutters – 34 foot fixed-seat rowing boats, based on the traditional boats which were used to ferry passengers on the Thames.
Each boat that enters their Cross Channel Rowing Challenge has to pledge to raise £12,000 for the Centre, so the MumsAway target is £24,000… we’ve already begun a whole range of fund-raising activities.
Bond is back: Casino night, charity auction & dinner
We are holding a Bond-themed casino night and charity auction at the Little Ship Club on Friday 28 June from 7pm-midnight and we would love you to come.
Tickets will go on sale online in April at a cost of £65 each. If you would like to organise a table of 12, or a group of 6, you can buy tickets in advance and save the booking fee. Please email me for details: email@example.com
We have Lars Tharp as our guest auctioneer and some interesting and exciting lots to go under the hammer, including a portrait sitting by a well-known Royal Society of Portrait Painters artist, a Thames RIB experience day, a week in a Devon cottage, a consultation from a interior design firm.
After dinner and the auction the roulette and Black Jack tables will open for guests to play for prizes.
(Many thanks to the Little Ship Club for allowing us the use of the club to hold this event).
Our row is scheduled for Friday 26 July, by which time we will have learned to control the oars!
The target time is under 5 hours, simply because the slowest team that has ever done the AHOY challenge took five and a half and we don't want to be the slowest.
The fastest crossing was by a team of very fit men who took three and a half hours on a dead calm day.
The wind has to be less than a Force 2 to do the crossing and a pilot boat accompanies each crew. We row to France (from Dover) but aren't allowed to land on French soil so hop on the pilot boat to get home.
As you can see from the photographs, we have a lot to learn on the water and I have found myself wondering why on earth I didn't stick to boats with sails!
If you would like to make a donation to our fundraising, please visit our JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/teammumsaway
You can 'like' us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/teammumsaway