Friends help set world rowing record
A GROUP of 80 friends became world and British record holders while raising money for charity at an event to support their friend who has been re-diagnosed with cancer.
The friends set two new British 100,000m indoor rowing records as well as a world record at The Plough in Winchmore Hill, near Amersham, on Sunday, March 20 and raised more than £10,000 for Target Ovarian Cancer in the process.
Ben Hobbs, 44, from Winchmore Hill, decided to organise the event because his friend Gabrielle Harris, 46, from Stoke Mandeville, was diagnosed in 2014 with stage three ovarian cancer.
After extensive chemotherapy and surgery she was in remission, but nine months later in January this year the mother-of-two and stepmother-of-two was told it had come back.
Mrs Harris said the rowing event aimed to celebrate life while raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer.
The event saw two teams of 40 rowers comprising friends and family, aged 40 to 49 and 50 to 59 who were aiming to set the British records for large mixed teams rowing 100,000m on Concept 2 rowing machines.
However, they went one better with the 40 to 49-year-old team setting a new world record while the 50 to 59-year-old team set a new British record.
The event also had a sweet shop and a name the teddy bear raffle to help boost funds for the charity.
Mr Hobbs said: “The event was absolutely wonderful, it was an amazing day and about 200 people turned up to support us throughout the day.”
Mrs Harris, who rowed the last 500m for the 40 to 49 team, said: “It’s my first time being a record holder! The event exceeded all our expectations. It was a real family event with a wonderful atmosphere.
“The day was all about living and being alive and happy and vibrant.
“It was a great day that involved so many people and the event meant everyone could take part, those who were athletic did more while those who were not did less.
“Target Ovarian Cancer is absolutely over the moon with the amount we raised, and we’re hoping to organise another event to raise even more.”
Mrs Harris said it was a shock when she discovered her cancer had returned.
She added: “There was an 80 per cent chance it would come back, so it was not a massive shock but it was all in one. I’d hoped if it did come back I’d have slightly longer than nine months cancer free.
“So now it’s back to chemo and I’m making big changes to my lifestyle. I’m really going for it and I’m going to tackle it head on.
“I’m trying to focus on all the positives of having cancer. There’s some amazing things coming out of it and I’ve now started to do motivational talks in the area about what it has been like to cope with and the many ways it has made my life better.”
To sponsor Team Gabrielle visit www. justgiving.com/ TeamGabrielle.
To read Mrs Harris’ blog visit http:// gabrielleharrisblog. blogspot.co.uk.
It’s my first time being a record holder!
Pulling power: Annie Dunster at the helm (above), Selina Carlto-Crisp, left, gives it her all and, below, Dan Jackson in full flow.
A toast: Gabrielle Harris and Ben Hobbs raise a coffee cup to the efforts of the teams
Still smiling: David Adams during the record breaking effort and Jo Hardy
We can do it: The team cheers on David Steedman and, inset, Gabrielle with actress Judy Parfitt, well known as Sister Monica Jones from Call the Midwife