This August, two former Army colleagues are teaming up once more for an incredible challenge.
Michael Tierney and James Moloney will be rowing across the North Sea between the Scottish Borders and Denmark, a crossing they believe has only previously been completed by the Vikings.
Michael, 47 from Low Fell, Gateshead, and James, 46 from Oxford, are undertaking the challenge to raise funds for charities including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which are close to their hearts.
They are paying for all the costs associated with the challenge themselves, along with a small amount of corporate sponsorship, therefore every penny raised goes directly to the charities.
Michael says: “My wonderful sister, Clare, died in 2012 from breast cancer. She was only 48 and I wanted to do something significant in her name that would raise money and help other people.
“I bought a two-man ocean rowing boat 18 months later and decided this was something I needed to do in order to raise funds for charity in her memory.”
Michael and James then put plans in place to row the 820 kilometres from Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders to west coast of Denmark between Thyboron and Hanstholm. The journey will take between 10-16 days, depending on the weather, during which time they will be at the mercy of the North Sea.
Safety is paramount to the pair, who are training up to four hours a day, and the two-man ocean rowing boat is equipped with a range of specialist emergency equipment.
Weather is the main factor that will help or hinder them and, to help them prepare, South Tyneside College has been putting Michael through his paces in their Marine Offshore Safety Training Centre.
The amazing Centre, on the bank of the Tyne, offers incredible simulation of offshore sea conditions and its variable wave pattern generator, wind, rain, light and sound effects will give Michael an exceptional insight into what he and James may face in the North Sea.
Over 100 companies and 3,000 students each year use the 4m-deep 18m by 10m pool, which has an eight-seater helicopter escape module to simulate dry, wet and capsize situations.
The centre also has a large, practical seamanship area equipped with a wide range of shipboard equipment and models of ships’ structures and devices, modern classrooms and meeting rooms.
Michael Speers, Head of School, Marine Offshore Safety Training centre at South Tyneside College, says: “Michael and James are undertaking an incredible challenge – I’m delighted we can use our expert skills to help them prepare.
“Our facilities are among the best in the country for teaching offshore survival techniques. They will gain vital safety information and knowledge by training with us in our safety training pool.
“Crossing the North Sea is no easy task, but I have every confidence they will be successful in their endeavour and achieve their target of raising money for these great causes.
“Everyone at the Marine Offshore Safety Training centre wishes them well.”
Footage from Sun FM here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNYcdcOgh-A
Michael adds: “The support from South Tyneside College is greatly appreciated. Their facilities are outstanding and they have also, very kindly, offered James and I a longer training session.
“This challenge requires a huge amount of preparation and our families and the charities have, quite rightly, demanded assurances about our safety.
“That said, with all the specialist equipment in the world, something can still go wrong so it’s essential we have this grounding in emergency marine procedures.
“We’re hoping people will get behind this row for our chosen charities. My sister, Clare, was a huge football fan and one of the first ladies ever to qualify as an FA referee.
“She asked for donations at her funeral to go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we’re very proud to support their work and the work of Marie Curie Cancer Care and Macmillan who helped Clare when she was ill.
“And, as ex soldiers, both James and I also wanted to raise funds for SSAFA, who offer support to service personnel, veterans and their families.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation helps find effective ways to detect and treat cancer. It funds projects, including the clinical trials of new drugs, that directly benefit patients from across the North East and Cumbria and which contribute significantly to international research into cancer.
Depending on the weather, Michael and James will set off on 1st August. To make a donation to their chosen charities, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/michaelrowtheboatashore.