Last day of training looms for Frank’s Atlantic charity challenge

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 16 October 2020

Braveheart Frank Rothwell, 70, is to attend his last training day in Burnham-on-Crouch before he rows 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, solo.

Frank, from Greenfield, is  taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge later this year and hopes to become the oldest person to complete it solo.

He will train for the last time with his boat on Monday (Oct 19), before it’s shipped off to the starting line in the Canary Islands.

Then, on Saturday, December 12, Frank will cast off from La Gomera, aiming to reach Antigua, and reuniting with his wife of 50 years, Judith, next Valentine’s Day.

After witnessing the devastating impact of dementia, Frank’s goal is to raise £1million for Alzheimer’s Research UK. To help his quest, Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation has agreed to generously match-fund the first £500,000 worth of donations. 

Frank is self-funding the marathon trip, with all money raised going  directly to Alzheimer's Research UK.

There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia, yet no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that cause it. 

The charity’s mission is to bring about first life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the charity is predicting its income may fall by up to 45per cent with  Frank’s fundraising  offering  a vital lifeline to dementia research.

Frank, who is a father of two and grandfather of three, said: “Rowing the Atlantic unsupervised is the biggest challenge I can take on, and I wish I was setting off today!

“I have done  months of gruelling training so I’m all fired up, feeling well and as fit as any 70 year old bloke can be. 

"I’ll have to make the most out of my last day of training with the boat in Essex, as I won’t see it again until I get to the Canary Islands in December.

“I am so happy my wife Judith is supportive of this challenge, we will be in contact twice a day on the satellite phone but I have told her to write down what she plans to say and talk fast because the calls are costing me about  £1 per minute!”

Highlighting the reason he’s taking on the challenge, Frank added: “I would like to make a positive difference with my life, so that’s why I’m dedicating 18 months to raising much-needed funds and awareness for Alzheimer's Research UK. 

“I’ve seen the heartbreak dementia causes, but at the moment there are no treatments to make it easier, or slow down its onset, never mind cure it. 

“Unfortunately, charities like Alzheimer’s Research UK are going through a very difficult time during this pandemic, taking a huge loss in donations. I believe we can help them find life-changing treatments and eradicate this terrible condition for our children and grandchildren. So, I’d be grateful to anyone who can support me.”

Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said:“We’re in awe of Frank for taking on this enormous challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK. Rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic solo is a daunting prospect for anyone, but Frank’s enthusiasm and energy should inspire all of us to not let anything hold us back.

“Frank’s determination in embarking on a challenge that others may deem impossible is exactly the attitude we need to overcome dementia. 

“Without life-changing preventions and treatments, one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. But as a result of COVID-19, critical progress in dementia research is at stake, so the £1million Frank hopes to raise will be crucial in helping our pioneering researchers regain momentum in their search for a much-needed cure. 

“We’re incredibly grateful to Frank, and to Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation for their generous support. We’d love to see the public and business get behind Frank by making a donation.,We wish Frank the best of luck and can’t wait to hear his updates from the Atlantic!”

Sir Malcolm Walker, Founder and Executive Chairman of Iceland Foods, said: “Having known Frank for many years, I’m not surprised by this latest challenge but I’m still very impressed. 

"Frank is an adventurer at heart and I’m excited to hear how he gets on with his next expedition. I’m truly grateful to Frank for taking on this challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK, having witnessed first-hand the devastation dementia causes. 

“I’m delighted 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: 

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