Frank's getting in shape for £1m charity challenge

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 08 September 2020

Saddleworth’s intrepid adventurer Frank Rothwell, 70, has stepped up training ahead of  his daunting challenge of rowing the Atlantic solo for raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

In his familiar flat cap, he has joined the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge training camp, located in Burnham-On-Crouch, Essex.

This winter, Frank  hopes to be the oldest man to complete the challenge solo rowing across 3,000 miles of ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua, West Indies.

Frank, boss Manchester Cabins, is no stranger to a tough challenge, having spent five weeks on a deserted island for Channel 4’s ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’, as well as becoming the 10th person ever to circumnavigage North and South America by boat.

The five-day camp competitors will provide rowers with focused advice and support in preparation for their gruelling expedition. The rowers will up to 60 hours quality on the water training including night time hours, supported by experienced and qualified ocean-rowing coaches.

They will refine vital skills including  anchoring, berthing and steering as well and receive  navigation and nutrition tips from experts.

Frank is on a mission to raise £1 million for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the largest amount ever raised by a single rower in the challenge, after witnessing the devastating impact of dementia. And he is self-funding the whole trip to ensure  all money raised goes directly to the charity.

Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation will be boosting its long-term support of Alzheimer's Research UK by match-funding the first £500,000 worth of donations.

With the charity predicting a drop in funds of up to 45 percent due to COVID-19, critical progress in dementia research is at stake, meaning the efforts of fundraisers like Frank are needed more than ever before.

Frank, father of two and grandfather of three, said: “I’ve already rowed over 300 miles on my boat, Never Too Old.

“But with less than 100 days to go until I set off, I’m looking forward to the chance to train in Essex where I can meet the other rowers and gain invaluable support from the experts.

“I aim to finish in Antigua on Valentine’s Day, giving me just 60 days to complete the journey and be reunited with my wife of 50 years, Judith. There’s no doubt we will have missed each other dearly after spending a Christmas at sea!

“But being  able to help Alzheimer’s Research UK during this difficult time will make it all worth it. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but I feel positive we will find a cure for dementia if we keep supporting their incredible research.”

Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Like all charities, we have seen a huge drop in income as a result of COVID-19. But the pandemic has also highlighted an urgent need to support dementia research, as people with dementia have been some of the hardest hit by COVID-19.

“We are extremely grateful to Frank for taking on this incredible challenge, and to the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation for their support.

“We rely on donations to fund our pioneering research and it’s thanks to the dedication of people like Frank we are able to continue our work. Research has the power to make breakthroughs possible, and dementia research needs our support now more than ever before.”

Sir Malcolm Walker, Founder and Executive Chairman of Iceland Foods, said: “Frank’s commitment to his training is inspiring but not at all surprising.

“Having known him for many years, I know his true grit, determination and passion will see him successfully row the Atlantic Ocean solo and raise £1M for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“I’m truly grateful to Frank for supporting this charity, having witnessed first-hand the devastation dementia causes. I’m delighted that Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation is able to match-fund the first £500,000 of donations to this cause, as dementia research needs our support more than ever before.”

Donate to Frank’s fundraising challenge here:

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