The people who inspire us to take on this monumental challenge
George's mother, Anne, would light up any room she walked into. Sociable, loving and caring, the well-being of others always came first. Behind this veil, Anne spent every day of her adult life battling with mental illness.
At her lowest, Anne's illness destroyed her. Depression took over, her marriage disintegrated and her life fell apart. Doctors at the time prescribed spells locked up in psychiatric hospitals and bouts of horrifying electric shock treatment, such was the ignorance surrounding mental illness at the time.
With an enormous amount of will power, and the unerring solidarity and support of friends and family, Anne was eventually able to manage her illness and find hope and reason in her existence. Despite her condition, Anne achieved great success in her professional life as a lawyer until, wanting to call on her own experiences and struggles, she decided to dedicate herself to helping others fighting the same battles as she had. She re-trained as a mental health and addiction counsellor, joined the Samaritans, and became a trustee of Mind, the mental health charity.
Tragically, on a cold morning in January 2011, Anne, having wondered out at night, was found washed up on the seashore near the family home, drowned. Despite appearing happy and balanced in life, her illness had beaten her.
Depression is the most prevalent disability in the world today. Despite this, it is still so widely and desperately misunderstood. It is only through the utter dedication and hard work of people like Anne that the necessary awareness and funding can be provided to start chipping away at the stigmas and myths that continue to plague this most destructive illness and provide the support needed to make any meaningful dent in the devastation it causes. The Four Oarsmen are incredibly proud to be rowing for Mind and make no apology in encouraging you to give generously.
Every year, 1 in 4 people in the UK experiences a mental health problem.
In 2014 there were 6,122 registered suicides in the UK (nearly 11 in every 100,000 people), with suicide rates at their highest for over 5 years.
28% of the burden of disease in the UK stems from mental health issues, yet this area only receives 5.5% of total government health research spending.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the most prevalent disability world-wide.
For over 65 years, MIND has been committed to transforming the lives of those affected by mental illness. It helps millions of people in the UK each year by providing advice and support to those struggling with mental health problems, as well as raising awareness on what is still a desperately misunderstood subject.
Mental illness is incredibly prevalent in young men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death in men under 35 years old, and 4 in 5 suicides being by males. With men less likely than women to seek help or admit weakness, we hope to raise awareness and understanding on this topic to help kick these stigmas into touch.
All the members of The Four Oarsmen team have encountered mental health problems amongst those close to them, with George's mother (previously a trustee for MIND) sadly losing her battle against mental illness in 2011.
The boys are extremely proud to team up with this great charity and to raise some much-needed funds and awareness for such an important and worthy cause.
Peter Robinson was lucky enough to spend a couple of years working and living in Hong Kong where he represented the Hong Kong rugby football club playing alongside the very talented Ben Kende.
A rising star of Hong Kong rugby, Ben sustained a spinal cord injury while representing the territory at the Asian Junior Championship in August 2010 and has since adjusted to life as a Tetraplegic with limited use of his arms and no use of his legs.
Ben was only 18 when this life changing injury happened. Many would have played the victim but it is Ben’s unflinching courage and “can do” approach to life which has meant that he has continued to excel in life. Ben has since completed a degree in Finance and Marketing at Sydney University and is currently studying for a Juris Doctor of Law Degree at Sydney University.
Ben is a real inspiration to us in our quest to row the Atlantic and it’s his resilience in the face of adversity and dogged determination that we hope to reciprocate during our row.
The Ben Kende Foundation (www.bkf.com.hk/bens-story-2) was informally set up in 2011 by friends and teachers of Ben and local rugby communities. The money raised has contributed to an ongoing therapy and care programme for Ben. We're proud to say that the Ben Kende Foundation is a supporter of our efforts as well as an advocate of The Spinal Research charity.
The Four Oarsmen chose Spinal Research as our charity as we hope to be able to contribute to further research to help create a world where spinal cord injury doesn’t necessarily mean a lifetime of paralysis.
Spinal Research is the UK’s leading charity funding over 140 research projects around the world which has achieved a number of ground-breaking changes in the field.
35 years ago spinal cord injury was considered incurable and few people, if any, were contemplating research into repair. However, the past 15 years, scientists have made major breakthroughs in understanding what happens after spinal cord injury and how to encourage damaged neurons to regenerate.
Thanks to such innovative research, paralysis can now be treated and scientists stand on the brink of applying therapies that will restore movement and feeling and transform the lives of paralysed people.
SPINAL RESEARCH FACTS
• 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland are paralysed due to Spinal Cord Injury
• More than 2.5 million people worldwide live with paralysis caused by Spinal Cord Injury
• Every day 3 people in the UK and Ireland are told that they will never walk again