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AN OCEAN OF SELF BELIEF 

Continuing our series on the work of your favourite charities, MOIRA HOLDEN reports on a man determined to overcome his own disability to help Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Insurance manager Stuart Boreham says he will leave his disability behind with his walking stick when he sets off on an attempt to be the first disabled person to row across the North Atlantic alone and without a support team on Saturday.

Stuart, who has cerebral palsy, probably won't see another soul for 80 days as he steers his boat, Macmillan Spirit, nearly 3,000 miles hoping to raise 25,000GBP for Macmillan Cancer Relief.

It's a gruelling challenge but Stuart is not new to them - he once drove a lawnmower from Land's End to John O'Groats for charity, even though his condition, possibly caused through a lack of oxygen before or at birth, seriously affects his legs.

As a teenager, a series of operations lengthened his Achilles tendons and hamstrings and he was forced to wear a cumbersome mechanism - like the contraption worn by Tom Hanks in the film Forrest Gump - from his waist to his ankles.

 
DRY RUN: Stuart in training at Milton Keynes

"I missed out on school sport," says Stuart, 37, who lives in Milton Keynes. "I watched from the sidelines as everybody played cricket and football and I desperately wanted to join in.

One of the sports I was able to do was dinghy sailing and that ignited a spark in me. After the operations I was able to walk better and wanted to do the the things I'd never been able to. I qualified for a motor-racing licence and took up karting."

Then he broke a leg in a race crash, had to use a wheelchair for nine months and, while recovering, followed news of the BT Global Challenge round-the world yacht race. He went to see the boats arrive at Southampton, where a chance meeting with race founder Sir Chay Blyth led to his being accepted for the 1996-1997 event.
Stuart sailed aboard Time and Tide, a boat crewed entirely by people with disability or who had overcome a life-threatening illness. "Sailing is a great leveller," he says. "I don't see why I shouldn't do things just because I'm disabled."
He has trained hard for his latest adventure/ His target is 32 miles a day, rowing for an hour and then resting for an hour. He's taking a laptop, a satellite phone and his favourite CDs.
He will row his 24Ft long, 6ft wide boat from La Gomera in the Canaries to Barbados as part of a ?1 million challenge in an aid of Macmillan Cancer Relief by the HBOS Foundation, which will match every one pound he raises.
"The worst bit will be the first three weeks as it will be hard to row away from my family. I am going to be away over Christmas, too," says Stuart.
"Achievement is about belief in yourself."
 

If you want to donate to Stuart's challenge, WRITE TO: Atlantic Row, Macmillan Cancer Relief, Room 100, 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ. Make cheques payable to HBOS Foundation ? 1Million Challenge. DOWNLOAD: www.teambluemarble.com
For cancer information and support, CALL: Macmillan CancerLine on 0808 808 2020 DOWNLOAD: www.macmillan.org.uk
 

 


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