Aidan set for gruelling Channel challenge

Aidan Graveson
Aidan Graveson

A man from Wendover who admits he has ‘zero’ rowing experience will tackle the choppy English Channel in a rowing boat to raise money for charity this summer.

Aidan Graveson, 34, will join six university friends as they row across the busy shipping lane in June.

He and friends Anurag Bhalla, Chris Mease, Kevin Taylor, Tom Fisher, Tom Greenland and Nick Stocker will have to defy physical and mental exhaustion to complete the 50 mile crossing.

And none of the men have any rowing experience between them, making the challenge all the more significant.

The Waves4Hope team will set off in a traditional Cornish Pilot Gig from the Belgium town of Nieuwpoort and plan to arrive on the shores of Ramsgate, Kent 16 hours later welcomed by family and friends.

Not content with this huge challenge, the team has also pledged to raise £20,000 to split between three cancer charities – Saving Faces, Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign and Sail4Cancer.

Saving Faces is devoted to the prevention and treatment of facial disease, injury and oral cancer.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign is a world-leading innovation centre which pioneers new treatments that save lives.

Sail 4 Cancer provides water-based respite days and holidays for families affected by cancer.

Speaking of the challenge, crewmember Aidan, who is dad to baby daughter Orla, said: “We’re an ordinary group of friends, who have all inevitably been affected in some way or other by cancer, which was the underlying motivation for undertaking this challenge of a lifetime.

“This is a real test for us all but the inspiration is all around and the crew, to a man, is determined to get across the channel and raise an incredible amount of money for three wonderful charities.”

The unfamiliar route across the stretch is of such magnitude that success is not guaranteed even for the most experienced rowers.

The crew are currently putting their bodies through hell to ensure they are fit enough to take on the challenge, including five training sessions at sea during the height of winter.

Each crew member is paying £1,000 from their own pockets, ensuring every penny raised is for charity.

Aidan said: “In my mind there was no way I would ever sign up for such a demanding challenge, but when that final email came through, I couldn’t help myself from instantly replying with a yes!

“To be part of such a great team, working towards such incredible goals both in the sense of the challenge, and in terms of the good we can achieve to help fight cancer through our fundraising, I am incredibly proud to be part of the Waves4Hope team.

To sponsor the men, visit the Waves 4 Hope website at waves4hope.com/ and follow @Waves4Hope on Twitter.