This Christmas season, together with two friends, Bristol woman Gemma Best is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to help raise awareness and funds for children’s charity Action Medical Research.
Gemma took part in the Atlantic crossing in 2020, thinking it would be a ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure. Two years later, Gemma is taking on that challenge once again. This challenge will culminate in her being the first UK woman to race the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge twice, she will also be competing to be the first ever woman in the world to take part in the race more than once.
Team Raring to Row is made of up friends Gemma, Kevin and Adam, who are taking on this incredible challenge and raising much needed funds for medical research. Being at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean alone in a 28x5-foot boat, rowing and sleeping continuously in two-hour blocks, they are prepared for every eventuality, mentally and physically.
The cause is one very close to Gemma’s heart – funding research to help children and families affected by rare disease. When Gemma was 13 years old, she tragically lost two siblings to a rare neurodegenerative disorder called PEHO (Progressive encephalopathy with Edema, Hypsarrhythmia and Optic atrophy). “Shortly after my sister Jade was born, she struggled to feed, her oxygen levels were low and she began to have epileptic fits. Unbeknownst to the medical staff, Jade had a very rare genetic condition called PEHO syndrome. Although her symptoms were being treated, the cause was still unknown. Jade was eventually diagnosed but so little was known about the condition. When Jordan arrived it came with some shock that she also had PEHO syndrome. Only five children in the UK had this diagnosis, including Jade and Jordan. My family were very lucky to have had not only the great nursing staff, but also fantastic consultants who were willing to research the condition. Without the help of charities such as Action Medical Research this would not be possible. Jade and Jordan had very short lives full of love and care. If we can help other families in similar situations, the difficulties and hardships of crossing the ocean will be worthwhile,” says Gemma.
Sarah Moss, Director of Communications at Action Medical Research says: “Everyone at Action is so grateful to team Raring to Row for taking on this unimaginable challenge to help children and families affected by rare and devasting diseases. The charity is striving to develop treatments and cures to tackle rare diseases that devastate children’s lives and affect families who are coping with the daily challenges of caring for a sick child. Medical research provides hope that no family will have to go through the heartbreak of losing a child to a rare disease.”
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the premier event in ocean racing and is recognised as the world's toughest row covering more than 3,000 miles between the start in the Canary Islands and the end point in Nelsons Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda.
Action Medical Research is a UK-wide children’s charity which funds desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children. It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.
It is now driving forward children’s research into conditions including epilepsy, prematurity, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.
Find out more about team Raring to Row: www.raringtorow.com.
Find out more about Action Medical Research: www.action.org.uk.
You can donate to team Raring to Row’s Just Giving page here: .
Images of the team are available to download here.