Friday 9th August 2019 15:00
A hardy team from Thames Water braved the summer heatwave, choppy waters and blistered hands as they completed an 8.5-mile charity row.
Alice Keeping, Emily Burditt, Harriet Allen, Jim Clark, Rebekah Kenyon and Sarah Ronan, who work in external affairs at the company, took to the River Thames in London on Wednesday, July 24, for the annual Meridian Pull race in aid of the Ahoy Centre.
Despite having just one training session, and with Harriet being the only member to have ever rowed before, they joined 11 other crews who set off in waves from Battersea Bridge at about 7pm.
They paddled past Battersea power station, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and other London landmarks as they followed the river downstream, crossing the finish line near the charity’s Deptford headquarters one hour and 24 minutes later.
Harriet, a communications executive, said: “It was a fantastic experience but exhausting! I have so many blisters.
“It was brilliant going through the centre of London and seeing the sunset over Tower Bridge.
“When we crossed the finish line I was relieved, partly because I got to stop rowing! Completing eight miles is very impressive but the next day I ached like hell.”
After a sweltering day in the capital, the temperature was still about 27 degrees during their row, while they also had to contend with the wake created by other motorised boats on the water.
Rebekah, a sustainability advisor, said: “We did an hour’s training on the water at the AHOY centre in Deptford and all did our own little bit of training but that was the only prep we did.
“After Tower Bridge it was very challenging! We had some great rowing conditions by Chelsea but then the water began to get a lot choppier.”
The team were invited to take part by the centre, which offers sailing and rowing activities to disadvantaged children and disabled adults.
They spent about three months raising £1,500 from friends, family and colleagues, smashing their original target of £1,000, with the total then match-funded by Thames Water.
Clive Ongley MBE, founder and chief executive of Ahoy, said: “We are very grateful for the wonderful support from Thames Water and their valiant rowers as all the fundraising from our ‘Oarsome’ rowing events bring in vital money to continue our charity’s work.
“Through the help and assistance from Thames Water we can continue to provide the support and training for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people who just need a chance in life.”