Channel challenge!

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SwimmersSeven brave Island ladies, one of whom cannot even swim, are busy preparing for the trip of a lifetime by rowing across the English Channel for charity.

The Wight Crew were so inspired by the sporting exploits of Team GB at the London Olympics, they decided they wanted to do their bit to ensure sport can enhance the lives of the next generation of sporting heroes. So after long discussions, a few drinks and plenty of reservations, they somehow volunteered themselves to row the Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The adventure takes place in June, and all the money raised will go towards two worthy charities – Ahoy and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Ahoy (http://www.ahoy.org.uk/) is a charity based in Deptford, London, whose primary aim is to get children and young adults who are from a disadvantaged background to try rowing in order to gain skills that can change the paths of their lives.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust (http://www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org/) is an Island based charity that takes young people in recovery from cancer sailing to help them regain their confidence, something cancer can take away.

The oldest of The Wight Crew is 50, and the youngest 26. One team member, Rowan Middleton-Leal, has never been able to swim, and three others suffer from sea sickness. Six of the seven crew members are mums, and none of them had any rowing experience before they began training in their fixed seat wooden skiff.

Non-swimmer Rowan smiled: “To be brutally honest the idea came up at a party over Christmas. We had all had a few drinks, so it seemed like a good idea at the time! It was only a bit later that I realised what I had let myself in for.

“I am frightened of the water, and the boat we have been training in on the river at Newport sits very low in the water and leaks quite badly, so just rowing in that, with water halfway up to your knees is quite daunting. I shall be wearing a life jacket all the way, and I am also going to have swimming lessons before we embark on the trip.”

To help publicise the event, and to raise funds, a black tie charity dinner and dance is being held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes, on Saturday March 2. During the evening there will be a charity auction, and Radio One DJ Rob Da Bank has offered to perform a 90-minute set for the guests.

Another crew member, Samantha Hampton, said: “The journey is going to be tough, because not only do we not have rowing experience, we don’t have much upper body strength needed for the 22 miles from Dover to Calais, or wherever we may land!”

Anyone who would like to help the ladies, or donate auction or raffle prizes should contact sam@cowescottages.com

Donations for the charities can be made through www.justgiving.com/channelrow2013. You can also monitor the progress of the seven brave souls through Keep in touch with us through: Twitter: #thewightcrew@ChannelRow2013 and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChannelRow2013

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