Rowing for a Cause: World Champs Fathers Take on Thames Challenge

Rowing for a Cause: World Champs Fathers Take on Thames Challenge

In a remarkable display of familial camaraderie and determination, four fathers of world champion rowers are set to embark on a challenging journey along the River Thames, all in the name of charity.

Nick Digby and Rory Carnegie, hailing from Oxford, along with Hugh Elwes from Hampshire, and Al Davidson from London, have set their sights on rowing more than 130 miles (209 km) through 40 locks over the course of five days, from May 2nd to May 6th. Their mission? To raise funds for two worthy causes: the Royal Marsden cancer charity and Love Rowing, the British Rowing Charitable Foundation.

The inspiration behind this noble endeavor stems not only from their shared passion for rowing but also from deeply personal experiences. Nick Digby, who tragically lost his wife to breast cancer last year, is particularly motivated to support the charity that provided crucial treatment for her. His journey into rowing began as a tribute to his children, who are themselves accomplished rowers on the world stage.

Reflecting on the daunting challenge ahead, Mr. Digby admits, "I don’t actually know whether we can achieve it." Indeed, the task at hand is no small feat. Despite their familial ties to rowing greatness—being fathers to GB rowing champions Tom Digby, Sholto Carnegie, Charlie Elwes, and Freddie Davidson—the quartet's own rowing experience is limited.

"We’ve all been standing on the towpaths for the last 10 years watching our sons do amazing things," says Hugh Elwes, acknowledging their unique perspective as spectators turned participants. "We all realized none of us had really rowed."

Their journey will take them from Lechlade in the Cotswolds, past the national Team GB rowing training center in Caversham, and culminate at the historic Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race course in Putney. Along the way, they anticipate both physical and emotional challenges, as they push themselves to their limits in support of their chosen causes.

Despite their relative lack of experience, the fathers are determined to give it their all. "We’ve had very little time in the boat together," Mr. Digby acknowledges. "We’ve never sat in a boat for more than three hours, and we are going to be sitting... for up to 10 hours a day, five days in a row."

Yet, they are not alone in their endeavor. Their sons, the very champions they've cheered on from the sidelines, will be there to offer encouragement and, perhaps, even join them on the water. It's a touching display of intergenerational support and unity—a testament to the bonds forged through a shared love of rowing and a commitment to making a difference.

As they prepare to set off on their challenging journey, these four fathers serve as an inspiration to us all. Their willingness to step out of their comfort zones, push their limits, and give back to their community embodies the true spirit of philanthropy and camaraderie. And as they row down the storied waters of the Thames, they remind us that, together, we can achieve great things—for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for those in need.

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