Year 10 Students Take on a Challenge

Image of Ben and Ryan

In mid-August, year 10 students Ben Cox and Ryan Haines from Sir William Borlase’s school in Marlow rowed the length of the Thames from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to the House of Parliament.  The aim of the 145 mile challenge was to raise as much money as possible for their school’s rowing club in order to buy a new racing 8.

The first evening saw Ben and Ryan arrive at Abingdon, just over 37 miles and 12 hours later. Although they didn’t look too enthusiastic the next morning at 6am, with the prospect of more back pain and blisters ahead, their spirits soon lifted as they set off despite the fact that their destination was 47 miles away. Darkness had fallen by the time they reached Marlow.  Anxious parents on the bank at Longridge were relieved as Ben and Ryan’s headtorches came into view at around 9.30 that evening.

Day 3 should have been much easier. Marlow to Teddington was to be a manageable 37 miles, an early start was planned, what could go wrong? Well, to start with, a faulty rigger plate from the previous day meant that a new boat had to be supplied and prepared (luckily they had stopped at their own boat club!!), and then an hour before journey’s end for the day, one of the gates at Molesy Lock actually broke. The delay cost the boys another hour and a half, but they managed the last 4.8 miles to Teddington lock in 37 minutes in gathering darkness with course instructions shouted at them from the support boat alongside.

The final push started just after 5.30am on Sunday 22nd August from Teddington Lock to catch the last of the outgoing tide. Strong advice from Port of London Authority regarding clipper traffic beyond Westminster gave Ben and Ryan the perfect destination: the Houses of Parliament. 22 miles from their start that morning took them just over 3.25 hours with the help of a disappointingly slow tide. The relief and elation in their faces was obvious, slightly dampened by the fact that they now had to row 8 miles back to Putney (the tide had turned) to get the boat out of the water and onto the waiting trailer. But they had done it, and in all that time their spirits and humour never left them.

This row was a lot harder than either of the boys, or their parents, had imagined, and all the more of an achievement for that. It’s an experience that neither of them will ever forget and one that they and their school can be very proud of.

As well as sponsorship from friends and family, they have already had generous support from Seiko Corporation in Maidenhead, Boots, Millgate Homes and Platts of Marlow. However, the club which competes and wins at national level is still looking for a long-term sponsor for the new boat and is busy devising some very exciting sponsorship packages for the right kind of support. 

If you are interested, please contact David Cox on or call 07768 164314.  You can sponsor the boys directly by visiting their JustGiving page.

Interested in finding a similar route to row?  Try one of the routes on Explore Rowing or add your own.