THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST ROW 3000 MILES 3000 MILES 1 MAN 1 MAN 1 KILT 1 KILT 1 BOAT 1 BOAT 1000000 STROKES OF THE OARS 1000000 STROKES OF THE OARS
Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

News

Please read below current news on the project:

Articles listed on subsequent pages but recent coverage from these outlets (so far ....) : 

  • Elmslie House, Malvern Talk - 8th March 2019
  • Worcester News - continual coverage so huge thank you to NewsQuest for your support!
  • Malvern Gazette
  • BBC Hereford and Worcester
  • Dundee Courier
  • Prime Magazine
  • LBC Radio 

Row the Sea for MND

6th February 2019

An inspirational talk by John Davidson, former special forces soldier rowing the Atlantic solo to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease.
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Row for the Sea MND

Ex SAS soldier tells Malvern pupils about quest to row solo across the Atlantic

2nd October 2018

‘Today I was invited to a local school, The Downs School Malvern, to inform the children of my Atlantic Challenge and why I was doing it. I was also lucky enough to take my boat with me so the children could see my home for the 50-60 days at sea.

It was also an honour to be able to talk the School about the Charity (Doddie5 Foundation) I am doing this challenge on behalf and Motor Neurone Disease and why I am fundraising to help find a cure. The school has a great charitable ethos and gets the children involved in regular fundraising efforts.

Alistair Cook, Headmaster, The Downs School Malvern:
‘It’s absolutely wonderful that John was able to join us on our ‘Dress Green for Macmillan Day’ today. Not only did the children hear of John’s very ambitious challenge to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease, but they were also able to celebrate wonderful fundraising achievements for Macmillan Cancer Support and St Richard’s Hospice. We wish John all the very best here at The Downs Malvern.’
https://www.thedownsmalvern.org.uk/
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Link to the article can be found here: https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/16953994.ex-sas-soldier-tells-malvern-pupils-about-quest-to-row-solo-across-the-atlantic/ 

John Davidson took his ‘Mad Giraffe’ boat to The Downs Malvern last week to talk about his epic challenge for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation which raises funds for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

The 56-year-old, who lives in Worcestershire, is taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December with the aim of raising £1million after being inspired by rugby legend Doddie Weir, who has MND.

John said: “I took my boat with me so the children could see my home for the 50-60 days at sea. I was able to regale them with tales of the sea life I would see – hopefully no sharks – and the size of the waves I will encounter, and feeling like I’m spinning in a tumble dryer as I’m being turned around in the storms.

“The children asked great questions such as: What wildlife will I see in the water? What kind of food will I take? Will the chocolate melt in the boat? And, how do I sleep when it’s bumpy on the water? And of course, very importantly, where will I go to the toilet?”

John added: “It was an honour to be able to talk the school about the charity, MND and why I am fundraising to help find a cure. The school has a great charitable ethos and gets the children involved in regular fundraising efforts.

“I would ideally like to get as many local schools involved as possible in helping create some giraffes for my boat. The top five can then be turned into stickers to go on my boat so it can help give me a boost as I get across the ocean.

“Any schools who are interested, please do get in touch.”

Downs School headmaster Alistair Cook said the pupils were fascinated by John’s challenge.

Father-of-four John, originally from Dundee, was inspired to take on the row after meeting fellow Scotsman Doddie.

John, who joined the army aged 19 and served until 1996, and was in the SAS, is one of eight solo rowers taking on the quest this year, which begins on December 12, weather depending.

It will take him one million strokes of the oar to cross the 3,000-mile expanse, and he hopes to reach his £1million target by encouraging everyone who hears his story to donate at least a £1.

“Most people signed up for the challenge two years in advance, but I did it with just six months before it starts, so I’m having to do a lot of catching up with my training,” he said.

“I had a ‘55-year-old sit at a laptop 12 hours a day body’ but thankfully muscle memory and determination has meant intensive training sessions have had to kick in and kick start this body back into shape fast. The mental side will be the biggest challenge because you’re in a boat on your own for all that time and you have to force yourself to keep rowing even when you’re exhausted, but I’m used to that kind of mental test from my time in the special forces. I know I will do it.”

John, who has run a consultancy company since leaving the forces, added: “There’s a tendency to think that the adventure in your life is over by the time you hit 50, so it’s a great thing to show that you can always do something a bit crazy like this, no matter your age.”

See madgiraffeatlanticrow.co.uk for more

HRH Letter of Support

10th September 2018

With great thanks to HRH Princess Anne for sending me a letter of support for my Atlantic Challenge. As Patron of the MNDA and Scottish Rugby Union this endorsement means a huge amount to me and the My Name Doddie'5 Foundation.
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SAS veteran and “proud Fintry boy” to row across Atlantic for MND

6th September 2018

A Dundee-born veteran wants to raise a £1 million for Motor Neurone Disease by rowing solo across the Atlantic ocean in a death-defying challenge.
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John Davidson, 56, plans to undertake the gruelling journey wearing a kilt and with just 180 days of training, compared to the two years normally required to prepare for the perilous journey.

The former SAS soldier and “proud Fintry boy” said although there have been deaths during the challenge in the past, he is not worried and is ready to face the sea despite never having rowed before.

John, who now lives in Worcestershire, was inspired to sign up for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, beginning on December 12, after meeting with rugby legend Doddie Weir.

All money raised would be donated to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which funds research into MND.

John said: “I met Doddie at a Scotland-England game when I was with my son Hamish.

“Hamish had been told by his school that he was too small to play rugby and Doddie took great offence to that.

“He took him under his arm and gave a truly inspirational speech about how we shouldn’t let anything hold us back. Hamish is now 12 and he is playing rugby.

“Doddie was such a great inspiration and it was devastating to hear that he had been diagnosed with MND.

“I decided that I wanted to raise awareness and money for for this cause and with my background, I wanted to do something that would really push the limits.

“I have never rowed before but I’m confident that I will be able to prepare for this challenge.”

John will be rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua in a small boat called the Mad Giraffe.

There has only ever been 85 people who completed the challenge, called ‘the toughest endurance race on the planet’, which should take an average of 60 days at sea – rowing 18 hours a day and consuming 8,000 calories.

John added: “I expect to lose around 15 to 20kg in body weight. More people have climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

“If something goes wrong, it would be three to four days before help would come, so I’d be on my own out there.

“I want to show people that you can still achieve great things when you’re over 50 and I want to inspire people in Dundee – I live in Worcestershire now but I’m a proud Fintry boy.”

To sponsor John, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/madgiraffeatlanticrow

Link: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/718937/pics-and-map-to-come-sas-veteran-and-proud-fintry-boy-to-row-across-atlantic-for-mnd/

BBC Hereford and Worcester

5th September 2018

Radio Interview with Justin from BBC Hereford and Worcester
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Justin came across today to see the boat and record an interview to be broadcast on BBC Hereford and Worcester. A tour of the boat and training 'centre' with an inclusion of the Wilson ball (which will accompany me across the Atlantic) from the lovely Perry family. Details on broadcast date to be confirmed. 

Worcester News

27th August 2018

Worcester News Interview with Michael Purton
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A FORMER special forces soldier will row solo across the Atlantic to raise £1million for charity after being inspired by rugby legend Doddie Weir.

John Davidson, 56, is taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to support the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation which raises funds for research into Motor Neurones Disease (MND).

Father-of-four John, originally from Dundee and now living in Worcestershire, was inspired after meeting fellow Scotsman Doddie, who has since been diagnosed with the debilitating disease and set up his foundation with the aim of finding a cure.


John, who joined the army aged 19 and served until 1996, and was in the SAS, said: “I met Doddie at Malvern College three years ago where he was giving an after-dinner speech, which in true Doddie style was funny, warm and full of hilarious anecdotes.

“I then bumped into him at Murrayfield where I was watching Scotland play England. Last minute ticket bookings meant that my son Hamish and myself were in a room with about 95 England supporters, we couldn’t get in the Scottish wing with Doddie and fellow Scotsman. Upon hearing this Doddie picked Hamish up under his arm and carried him into the room and gave an inspirational talk about how you can do anything you want to do and how important children are to the future of rugby. It meant a lot to Hamish, who was nine at the time.

“So it just felt right to support his foundation with this challenge.”

To call John’s Atlantic row ‘a challenge’ is something of an understatement. It will take him one million strokes of the oar to traverse the 3,000-mile expanse, and he’s hoping to reach his £1million target by encouraging everyone who hears his story to donate at least a £1.

John is one of eight solo rowers taking on the quest this year, which begins on December 12 (weather depending) and will take between 50-60 days (again weather dependant!), and although he’s playing catch-up when it comes to training, he has no doubt that he will succeed.


“Most people signed up for the challenge two years in advance, but I did it with just six months before it starts, so I’m having to do a lot of catching up with my training,” he said.

Link: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/16597494.former-sas-soldier-rowing-solo-across-atlantic-to-raise-money-in-honour-of-doddie-weir/

“I had a ‘55-year-old sit at a laptop 12 hours a day body’ but thankfully muscle memory and determination has meant intensive training sessions have had to kick in and kick start this body back into shape fast. The mental side will be the biggest challenge because you’re in a boat on your own for all that time and you have to force yourself to keep rowing even when you’re exhausted, but I’m used to that kind of mental test from my time in the special forces. I know I will do it.”

John, who has run a consultancy company since leaving the forces, added: “There’s a tendency to think that the adventure in your life is over by the time you hit 50, so it’s a great thing to show that you can always do something a bit crazy like this, no matter your age.”

He said that the rugby community is “a family” and that the sport is “very personal” to him, hence his decision to support Doddie’s foundation.

“My best friend was killed in action in 1991 while we were serving in the Gulf War,” he said. “David ‘Shug’ Denburry MM QGM. We made a deal that if anything happened to one of us, we would support each other’s teams if they were not playing each other. He was a great rugby player and proud Welshman so I wear a Scotland top and a Wales top to honour this memory.


“That idea of honouring someone special is behind me doing this challenge.”

See madgiraffeatlanticrow.co.uk for more on John’s challenge and how to donate.

Worcester News: Editor's View

27th August 2018

Editor's kind comments on my mad kilted challenge!
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WHAT an inspiration John Davidson is.


As he prepares to row 3,000 miles solo across the Atlantic, the former SAS soldier is living proof that age and having a 'laptop body' is no barrier to adventure.

John, at 56, will push his body to the limit as he takes on the gruelling challenge but, with his experience in the special forces, he's certainly got the mental strength for the task.

His own inspiration is Doddie Weir, the legendary Scottish rugby player who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).


Ever the fighter, Doddie decided that rather than wallow in the grief of discovering that he had the debilitating disease, he would do everything possible to find a cure – and so he set up his own charity to fund research, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

After meeting Doddie, John was inspired to take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in his honour – which is all the more amazing when you consider that Doddie is not a relative or close friend of John's, simply someone leading a cause that is worth supporting. Brilliant!

Link: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/16600810.editors-view-ex-sas-soldiers-atlantic-row-is-truly-inspiring/

LBC London News Radio Interview with Ashleigh Carroll

2nd August 2018

Interviewed by Ashleigh Carroll on LBC London News
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Listen here: 

Ashleigh Carroll kindly gave me a slot on her afternoon show on 2 August highlighting my Mad Giraffe row and fundraiser for MND. Thank you hugely Ashleigh for your support! 

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