Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the race in December 2022. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally.
Royal Navy Veteran and Area Delivery Manager at Landmarc Support Services, Jason Watkin will be heading up the boat as Skipper, accompanied by Garreth Murrell – veteran and CEO of Veterans at Ease, Royal Artillery veteran Chris Harvey, and Parachute Regiment veteran Stephen Lees.
The forty day row will see the team experience an average weight loss of a staggering 15kg each, despite consuming 60kcal per kg of body weight, per person, per day.
Completely unassisted, the team will have to carry absolutely everything required for the trip onboard, including all equipment, food and non-biodegradable waste that is produced. Any waste left unaccounted for at the end of the challenge will result in instant disqualification.
Two support yachts will be on standby if the team get into difficulties, but this could be up to five days away while out at sea – meaning the team of four will be completely reliant on manpower, their vessel and the elements.
Reds10 and Landmarc are the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO)’s industry partners for the Net-Zero Carbon Accommodation Programme (NetCAP), which is running across the UK Defence Training Estate. Another camp on the Estate, Wathgill Training Camp in North Yorkshire, is where the boat, named Oardrey (a play on words on the Anglo Saxon translation for Noble Strength), is currently being kept until it is transported to the start line in December 2022.
Each team member has had their own individual struggles with mental health and are now beneficiaries of the charity Veterans at Ease. CEO Garreth Murrell founded the charity after completing a series of therapy sessions and going on to become a practitioner himself.
Veterans at Ease is a free to use service, committed to helping veterans, reservists, serving military personnel and their families deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other combat stress-related issues.
“A unique benefit of coming to Veterans at Ease is that we employ veteran practitioners. This ensures those who need our help can speak to someone who ‘gets it’ – there’s so much to be said for talking to someone who can relate directly to your personal experiences, and even have a bit of banter with us too.”
Team member and Parachute Regiment veteran, Stephen Lees, is blind and hoping the challenge will make him a world record holder. Having lost 95 per cent of his sight due to illness, Stephen has been spending a lot of time on board Oardrey, getting to know the layout, routines and procedures inside out – even creating a replica of the boat in his loft.
Skipper Jason Watkin, says:
“Our passion for mental health support and the Veterans at Ease charity keeps us motivated. As someone who has used the service first-hand, I know just how important fundraising can be."
If you could like to find out more about Team Emotive, or follow their progress, please visit their website (www.team-emotive.co.uk) or look out for them on Facebook. You can also donate to their challenge.
In December 2022 I aim to row across the Atlantic with three other veterans to raise money for the charity Veterans at Ease, who were our beneficiaries to prove that you can go from such a dark place with mental health to do something absolutely incredible.
Oardrey's our boat and Oardrey in the traditional spelling is anglo-saxon for noble strength and it really fits in with what we're doing and we're called Team Emotive because our strap line is 'making the invisible visible' and that means that what you can't see up here and where you come from, you can talk about it and really demonstrate to people there is future.
Having had a really bad mental health state and suicidal thoughts and everything else that goes with it, to put yourself on a boat and prove that you can manage your thought processes in a more effective way and row across the Atlantic.
I'm the Chief Exec founder and lead psychotherapist for the military mental health charity Veterans at Ease. The work we do, I personally feel is so important. When I was going through my stuff, that cost me 2000 pounds for one session. It costs the men and women that access our services nothing and that is so important because they would not access our services otherwise.
By having Oardrey on such a global platform, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, that gives us that wider audience. Once we've paid for the race any fundraising that we do thereafter and any sponsors that come on thereafter, that will go straight to the charity to allow us to increase the number of therapists, increase the number of people we help each year and I also wanted to do it with some of the people that we've managed to help, so have that good news story - this is where your pound is going, it has a positive impact, so please keep supporting us.
Everybody who's rowing this challenge has went through some sort of mental health problem, which we are indebted to this charity for helping us out of a very dark hole. Me personally, I am registered blind. I can't tell you how hard it is when you do lose your main sense and then have to get on with your life. Trying to use sensory you know your hearing you know obviously all the rest of it, it becomes a real problem but because I've got three other guys with my teammates who are fully aware of my problems, will help me as well and this is what part of a team is going to be. So I do hope to break some world records, so let's bring them back to the North East and let's be mentally proud of what we've achieved.
I've been helped by Veterans at Ease massively to be honest, um but so have the other lads. One of the big ones for me for doing it, is just to keep it going because if we're raising funds they're going to keep going and the work that they do is unreal, absolutely unreal. We're all in the same frame of mind, as we need to be together as much as we can. I'm really looking forward to it, there's no qualms about it. It's going to be hard, once you're there, you're out in the water, there's no going back. Just got to keep the camaraderie and keep the, like, the family mentality up with them as well, so, all being well, fingers crossed it should be good.
We're lucky we've got Oardrey now but we've got a lot of work between now and December 2022 because at the moment we're still raising money for the race. Once we've raised that then every penny goes to Veterans at Ease, which is the ultimate aim. We've got training, we've got pre-race checks to do, we've also got a 104 hour qualifying row to do, all our compulsory courses, but it's doable and thanks to the support of the likes of Landmarc and all our supporters, we will get there.
We are really proud of Jason. I think his team, the effort, the number of years he's put into this, it shows a commitment that's truly, you know, worthy of our, of our support and our praise. Him and his team, they're putting all the time, all the effort into this, and to have our name on his boat is something truly magnificent. To see them coming in at the other end after such an amazing achievement is going to be wonderful and I'm only too proud to be part of that myself, as I know my company is.
Certainly from a charity's perspective, to have such a large organisation go yeah, we've got confidence in you, we will back you, it's very very humbling for me and awe inspiring at the same time. What Landmarc have done is given the four of us and by extension, all of those other people that will come through Veterans at Ease, having seen these videos, having supported us through the row, it's immeasurable, but such a positive thing.