Love of the sea fires Andy’s round- Bri­tain ad­ven­ture

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

It was a dream the 36- year- old only se­ri­ously con­sid­ered last year af­ter his grand­mother died.

“Like all grand ideas, this one was born in the pub af­ter a few light ales,” he ex­plained.

“I go to the ad­ven­ture travel film fes­ti­val ev­ery year with a cou­ple of friends, al­ways watch­ing other peo­ple’s ad­ven­tures but never get­ting round to one of my own.

“We thought that jump­ing in a boat and row­ing around the coast would be af­ford­able and right on our doorstep. Turns out we were wrong – it’s bloody ex­pen­sive and re­ally com­pli­cated, but the idea stuck with me.”

While the for­mer Tom­lin­scote pupil had no row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence he was driven by a sense of ad­ven­ture, wish to es­cape and love for the sea.

He said: “I’d still not done any­thing about it un­til last year, I was busy with reg­u­lar life.

“I was work­ing and I was a carer for my grandma but we lost her and I was made re­dun­dant about the same time.

“So, rather than jump­ing back in to the nineto- five, I wanted to take some time out for a bit of an ad­ven­ture.”

What fol­lowed was an in­tense pe­riod of train­ing, study­ing and ded­i­ca­tion.

Mr Hodg­son added: “I only started row­ing this year, I had never been on a boat be­fore that.

“The sheer amount of train­ing has been in­tense – mainly fig­ur­ing out what I needed to know was a mas­sive job be­cause I’m not from a row­ing back­ground. Luck­ily I had a lot of help from East Anglian Sea School.”

In ad­di­tion to spend­ing more than 25 days of class­room time study­ing sea sur­vival, ra­dio use, skip­ping and the­ory, there was phys­i­cally drain­ing prac­ti­cal train­ing.

“I’ve spent more than 100 hours on the boat prac­tis­ing on the water, av­er­ag­ing 30 miles per day,” he said.

“I think this chal­lenge stuck, firstly be­cause it’s hard to find some­thing that’s not been done be­fore th­ese days and also that I’ve al­ways loved the sea – I’ve been surfing since my late teens.

“I’m too busy to be ner­vous or ex­cited, which is a bless­ing, but in those early morn­ing mo­ments when I think that only five boats have made it all the way round out of 17 at­tempts and none of them were solo ef­forts, I will ad­mit to but­ter­flies but I just put it to one side and plough on.

“I think be­ing out on the ocean with noth­ing for miles around will be re­ally free­ing – whether it’s an early on­set midlife cri­sis or just a chance to step out­side my reg­u­lar life to do some­thing re­ally re­ward­ing, I’m not sure.”

Mr Hodg­son, who will be rais­ing money for MIND and the RNLI, added: “One- in- four of us will ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health is­sue in any given year and that’s some­thing I have per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of.

“I think mod­ern life can eas­ily erode our phys­i­cal and men­tal health – they are both tied to­gether.”

Mr Hodg­son set off for his chal­leng­ing ad­ven­ture from Lon­don Bridge last Satur­day.

To spon­sor him, visit his fundrais­ing page at https: // www. just­giv­ing. com/ crowd­fund­ing/ RoundBri­tainRow.

You can also fol­low his jour­ney by lik­ing his Face­book page.

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