A LOCAL firefighter will take on the ultimate test of endurance by rowing across the Indian Ocean to raise money for charity this summer.
Billy Taylor, 44, is part of a four-strong British crew setting off on a 3,600-mile journey between Australia and Mauritius.
Mr Taylor, a firefighter for 10 years, is currently based at Whitley Wood Fire Station.
“Less than 50 people have managed to successfully complete an ocean row across the Indian Ocean, that’s less than 10 per cent of the number of people who have been into space,” said Mr Taylor, a father of three.
The Hope & Glory row will raise funds for Spotlight YOPD (young onset Parkinson’s disease), a charity which raises awareness and supports sufferers of the condition that one of the crew members, Robin Buttery, aged 45, was diagnosed with two years ago.
The other two crew on the row – which is expected to take between 65 to 90 days, depending on the weather – are 27-year-old James Plumley, from Guernsey, and Barry Hayes, aged 35, from North Wales.
They hope to set a new world rowing record. Mr Taylor has previously rowed across the Pacific with Mr Hayes and their crew hold two world records.
Strawberry Hill medical centre, Newbury, will provide cross-continental, 24-hour medical advice throughout the row and Oxford Brookes University will also monitor the rowers and collect data to develop rehabilitation programmes for Parkinson’s sufferers.
“Everything that we will need to survive will be stowed on board the 29ft-ocean rowing boat when we set off from Western Australia; food, water, medical supplies, replacement equipment etc,” said Mr Taylor.
The physical and mental challenge involves crew members rowing in two-hour shifts, then resting two hours, with no more than 90 minutes sleep at a time.
The crew hope local and UK-wide schools will ‘climb aboard’ and engage in associated subjects such as geography, oceanography, meteorology and marine conservation.
Onboard cameras will stream live video footage and they aim to Skype each day to school assemblies.
“Some of them will be able to talk to us live and pose questions about any subject they want surrounding the row,” said Mr Taylor.
For more information/to sponsor the crew, visit www.rowtheindianocean.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07917 412805.
On Twitter: @RowOcean and facebook.com/indianocean2017.