Robin sets off on an oar-some challenge

Team Men of Oar at the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018.
Team Men of Oar at the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018.

Local man Robin Drysdale is celebrating his recovery from bowel cancer by rowing the Atlantic Ocean.

He is part of team Men of Oar which is competing in The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Having left La Gomera in the Canary Islands last week, Robin and his four crew-mates are rowing 3,000 nautical miles - completely self-supported - to Antigua.

“I can’t believe it,” said Robin, as he set off on the adventure of a lifetime.

“The last couple of weeks have been utterly frantic with preparations. We’re looking forward to getting into a routine at sea and our first swim out of sight of land!”

The journey is expected to take around six weeks.

Robin grew up in Ayton and attended school in Berwick before heading to university where he picked up his love of rowing and the open water.

His thirst for adventure developed through his career in the Army. He qualified as a rowing coach and a motor launch driver and recently enjoyed two weeks sailing on the Baltic Sea.

It is all a far cry from the dark days of 2016 when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, somewhat of a shock for an active 33-year-old.

Robin was lucky, being diagnosed at stage 2 the cancer had not spread and was treatable through surgery and chemotherapy.

“The decision to row the Atlantic Ocean came from a desire to undertake an adventure to celebrate surviving cancer and to do something to help people who have the disease in the future,” said Robin.

Robin quickly found his friends and family to be supportive and, with his crew-mates, set out on the task of raising £250,000 for Bowel Cancer UK and Combat Stress.

Early detection of bowel cancer is achievable for everyone, and the cancer itself grows slowly so that in most cases it is easily operable on if caught early. Unfortunately through misdiagnosis and ignorance of the symptoms, too many cases are not caught in time - Robin was lucky that his symptoms were taken seriously by the doctor and the cancer was detected in good time.

Bowel Cancer UK provides funding for research into detection techniques, grants for training surgeons, and has recently led a campaign to change national clinical standards for diagnosis of symptoms associated with bowel cancer.

In recognition of their army background, the team are also raising money for Combat Stress.

Combat Stress supports servicemen and women and veterans alike who suffer from the psychological effects of war.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is all too often shrugged off and has a disastrous effect on the service person’s life and relationships. Combat Stress help heal the psychological wounds of the people who put themselves in harms way for the nation.

Having served a combined four tours of Afghanistan, Men of Oar are all too aware of how important their work is.

Keep up to date on their progress at www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com