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I'LL ROW ATLANTIC FOR MY SON

August 12 2004
Soldier Pete Rowlands is to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in memory of his son.

Captain Rowlands is part of a four-man team that plans to make the perilous journey to raise £20,000 for the Meningitis Trust.

His son, Gareth, died from the virus in May last year - only hours after complaining of headaches.

The 16-year-old was a keen sportsman and was captain of the second XV rugby union team at his boarding school in Spinkhill, near Sheffield.

Capt Rowlands said: "We want to keep Gareth's spirit alive for us as a family. It was a devastating blow to lose him.

"The Meningitis Trust has been a tower of strength to me, my wife Helen and daughter Sian since Gareth's death - and it does the same for hundreds of other families each year."

Capt Rowlands, 43, who lives near Beverley, works at the Defence School of Transport, Leconfield.

He and his fellow Royal Marines are taking part in the Ocean Fours Atlantic Rowing Challenge in June 2006.

He will be joined by close friend Captain Mark Waterson and Angus Macmillan and Charlie Martell, who are now employed by humanitarian organisations to clear mines.

The foursome have called their team Commando Joe and will compete against 15 others in the Atlantic challenge, which will set off from near New York and head to Plymouth in Devon

Capt Waterson, 44, and Capt Rowlands, who live in the same village, became best friends after meeting in 1976. Their wives, Joy and Helen, are also very close.

Capt Waterson, who works in Cambridgeshire, said he and his wife could not have children.

He said: "Pete and Helen allowed us to love Gareth and Sian as if they were our own.

"Gareth was the son I could never have, so rowing the Atlantic in his memory and raising much-needed funds for the Meningitis Trust in the process is the least I can do."

The team will prepare for the challenge by combining road running with circuit training. But the bulk of their training will include rowing on the North Sea.

The team must collect £100,000 to cover the cost of the crossing.

A picture of Gareth will be incorporated into the design of the boat.

To donate cash towards the fundraising effort, call campaign manager Adrian Bell on (01285) 831719 or, alternatively log on to www.justgiving.com/oceanrowing

m.croshaw@hdmp.co.uk

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