Wisbech man on final leg of historic cross Atlantic rowing challenge
A group of wounded military veterans attempting to row the Atlantic are less than 1,000 miles (1,609km) away from earning a place in the history books.
The Row2Recovery foursome, which includes former Irish Guardsman Paddy Gallagher, 30, from Wisbech, are among those taking part in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge, rowing the 3,000 miles (4,828km) from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean to raise vital funds for military charities.
In crossing the finishing line, Row2Recovery would become the first all-amputee team to row an ocean.
Having already spent 30 days at sea, they are now entering the third leg of the race in the top 10 boats out of a fleet of 26.
Mr Gallagher, who lost his right leg below the knee after stepping on an explosive while serving with the Irish Guards in Afghanitan in 2009, is with fellow crewmates Light Dragoon Lance Corporal Cayle Royce, 29, from Dartmouth, former RAF Flight Sergeant parachute jump instructor Nigel Rogoff, 56, from Hereford and serving Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Lee Spencer, 46, from Yelverton.
They are taking part in the race having suffered five lower-body amputations between them.
Mr Gallagher, who hails from an island off the Irish coast, was inspired after meeting ocean rower Don Allen in 1987.
He said: “He came ashore in 1987 and there is a picture of me in his wooden ocean rowing boat, but since then it has been a boyhood dream.
“When I got the opportunity to do it and knew it was raising money for servicemen, I couldn’t say no.
“I really wanted to complete an extraordinary challenge.”
Row2Recovery reaching the 1,000 miles to row marker is a significant milestone as it heralds the final stage of the endurance challenge, with the team anticipated to arrive in Antigua in just two weeks’ time.
Weather conditions meant the race was delayed and the team endured storms last week, being locked in their airtight cabin for days at a time during the course of the first 2,000 miles (3,219km).
Two members of the team have been injured due to the gruelling shift of two hours on and two hours off.
Despite this, they remain in the top 10 boats to make it to land first and are currently fourth out of nine boats in the fours class.
Together the team are rowing in aid of Row2Recovery, the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association (Blesma), Help For Heroes and the Endeavour Fund.
They want to spread the message that there is life beyond injury and keep raising awareness and funds on behalf of all injured servicemen and women.
Before leaving on his epic journey, Mr Gallagher added: “It is going to be a huge challenge. Chances are we will meet tropical storms and the mental challenge of being far away from help and land. We are going to be pretty exposed out there.
“Chances are that we are will be dealing with some pretty big waves, which is not so bad if they are going in the same direction as you are.
“I have a healthy respect for the sea and I don’t have a fear of being away from the land.”
Mr Gallagher is married to Arlene and has son Patrick.
To support Mr Gallagher and the team go to: www.row2recovery.com/atlantic-row.html