A determined father of two has broken the world record for longest continuous indoor row and raised more than £3000 for Love Your Hospital.
Neal Marsh, 48, of Littlehampton, vowed never to put himself through the torment of training and sleep deprivation again after first breaking the world record of rowing non-stop for 80 hours in 2014.
On hearing the title had been broken by a 20-year-old German man by one hour and one minute, Neal pledged to take on the challenge again for Love Your Hospital, the dedicated charity of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in aid of a new respirator for the Bluefin children’s ward at Worthing Hospital.
Neal set up camp inside Worthing Hospital and started rowing at 9am on Monday 10th April officially breaking the record on Thursday 13th at 6pm. He then carried on to officially log a final time of 83 hours.
Afterwards Neal said: “This row was harder than the last one. I was battling a cold and the first two nights of rowing were more difficult than I had anticipated. We struggled to get the nutrition right at first, but with a great team around me, I managed to keep going.”
“Towards the end, I was physically wrecked and had a few moments where I wasn’t sure I could carry on. I had a mental block of about two hours on the last day and when I came round an hour before breaking the record, I kept asking what I was doing rowing in the hospital and why there were lots of people around me!”
Neal’s mum, Janet, who was present to see her son break the record said “I was a little worried about him towards the end. He was talking in whispers and clearly quite disorientated, but he did it and I’m so very proud of him.”
Visited by patients and staff at the hospital who stopped by to donate and offer him words of encouragement, Neal was also joined by the Chief Executive of the trust, Marianne Griffiths who accompanied him on the backup rower in a show of support.
Neal said: “Raising the money for the respirator has been a wonderful achievement, but I’ve also felt emotional about how everyone at Worthing Hospital got behind me. Some people came through regularly to see how I was doing and I felt a real sense of community during this challenge.”
The Worthing Rowing Club member is no stranger to taking on extreme challenges. In December 2013, Neal was skipper for the Team Atlantic Splash Crew who attempted the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the world’s toughest rowing race. Sadly, their craft was damaged in a storm and the team had to be rescued five days in to the event.
Becky Holcroft, Paediatric Matron, said: “The paediatric department are so very grateful that Neal undertook this incredible challenge of rowing for four days to raise money for Bluefin ward. Our patients and staff on the ward would like to congratulate and thank Neal on this amazing achievement.”
Amanda Tucker, Head of Love Your Hospital, said: “Neal’s dedication to this challenge has been phenomenal. He really captured the hearts of our patients, staff and visitors who cheered him on from the side lines. The funds raised will enable our children’s ward to buy a new respirator which will be a real benefit to patient care in the future. We’re so thankful to Neal and everyone involved who made this special challenge possible.”
JSPC Computer Services, Freedom Leisure, Storm Fitness Academy Ltd, Simmons Signs and Protectfully sponsored Neal’s world record attempt.
To make a donation to Neal’s fundraising page, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rowing4health