Sparrows Group is supporting one of its Aberdeen managers who is hoping to raise £50,000 for charity by becoming the first person to complete a solo row across the Atlantic, from Canada to Scotland, in a boat he is building himself.
The global provider of specialist equipment and integrated engineering services will be principal sponsors of rope access manager Peter Rhodes’ gruelling 2,000 nautical mile row which he is undertaking to raise funds for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital after its staff played a major role in saving his new-born son’s life last year.
On hearing about his Row North Atlantic plans, Sparrows CEO Stewart Mitchell made the decision for the company to get on board. The firm’s support has allowed Peter to begin building the six-meter long fibreglass vessel in his family garage in Alford, Aberdeenshire (Scotland). Once at the final stages, he plans to complete the build at Sparrows facility before taking it out for sea trails.
Peter’s son Cedar, who turned one this month (March), was just nine days old when he fell ill and had to receive life-saving care to stabilize his condition in Aberdeen before being flown to Glasgow for emergency heart surgery.
The experience has inspired Peter to raise money through the Grampian Health Board Endowment Fund, which will be used to provide additional amenities for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital’s patients and staff, as well as research and equipment.
Peter moved to Aberdeen five years ago with his wife Kate, youngest child Cedar, Heidi (6), Poppy (4) and Zach (3) and has worked as a rope access manager at Sparrows for the past three years.
His trans-Atlantic journey is currently scheduled to start in May 2020 and is expected to take around 50 days. It will begin at St John’s in Canada and see him rowing solo to Oban on the West coast of Scotland.
He commented: “I’m extremely grateful for the support from my family and Sparrows. Helping with fundraising is the least we can do to repay the team at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital for saving Cedar’s life. The sponsorship from Sparrows has allowed me to start working on the construction of the boat. I hope to have it ready for sea trials by the end of the year before travelling to Canada in May 2020 to start my adventure.
“I’ve completed several solo climbs in California and Patagonia, and as a rope access manager at Sparrows, safety is second nature to me. I wanted to do something bold; more people have summited Mount Everest than rowed the Atlantic, so this challenge provides that opportunity. Aiming to be the first person to complete the journey in Scotland has made me even more determined.
“Tackling potential icebergs, storms, wind and waves will bring their own challenges, however the fundraising target and knowing my family will be waiting for me to celebrate in Oban will help to keep me focused and motivated.”
Sparrows Group CEO Stewart Mitchell said: “Peter is a truly inspiring individual who has set himself an incredible challenge to raise money for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and we are proud as a business to support his endeavours as principal sponsor.
“It’s particularly impressive that Peter has taken on the task of building the boat himself. It provides him with a complex engineering challenge to overcome but it minimises his costs meaning more money goes directly the charity.
“We have every faith in his ability, positive mind-set and steely determination that he can complete this record-breaking row. We wish him all the best with finishing the boat build and his trans-Atlantic crossing.”
Hugh Bishop, clinical director of child health for NHS Grampian, said: “We are humbled and amazed and pretty awe-struck by what Pete is planning to do for this hospital. Everyone that raises money for this hospital whether it is £5 or £100,000 is amazing and are doing something within their capacity for the children we have the privilege to care for.
“It’s fair to say not many people are doing something of this magnitude and have the abilities, both physically and mentally, to do such a project – we’ve not seen something quite like this being done before.
“There’s quite a bit of serendipity here and the money that Pete is raising is coming at a very fortunate time for the children’s hospital.
“We’re currently working on a major project to redesign our acute assessment unit, which is the front door service when children and families come into the hospital when they have been referred by their GP or the emergency department with any illness – much like Cedar when he first came into hospital.
“When he arrived here he needed to be stabilized and kept safe and made well enough to be transferred to Glasgow. That’s what the team at RACH did so he could have his life-saving surgery.
“It is being designed to make the journey more efficient for children and families and it’s quite a significant amount of money we need in order to be able to do that work. We have some of that money but we don’t have all of it, so this incredible project Pete is embarking on and his hope to raise a significant sum is really going to help the children’s hospital and more importantly the children and families that use it, to make the experience a more positive one.”
Once Peter has completed the row, the boat and all other equipment will be sold to raise further funds for the charity.
For further information on becoming a gold, silver or oar sponsor of Peter’s Row North Atlantic expedition, please go to https://rownorthatlantic.com/sponsorship. Personal donations can be made here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rna
You can keep up to date with Peter’s progress by following his social media channels: