Two veterans, dubbed the ‘Grandads of the Atlantic’, who are to become the oldest duo ever to row across the great ocean as part of a charity fundraising campaign.
Former paratroopers Neil Young and Peter Ketley, who will have a combined age of 123 at the time of their 3,000-mile nautical challenge next December, will spend 50 days at sea despite having no previous rowing experience.
The friends of more than 40 years, whose service spans tours of Northern Ireland and The Falklands, are aiming to raise £250,000 for worthy causes, including military charity Royal British Legion Industries.
The pair this week visited RBLI’s Kent-based social enterprise Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which provides crucial work experience to ex-service personnel, to meet first-hand some of the veterans their money will go to help. BBMC employs more than 100 people – more than 70% of whom are ex-service personnel, have a physical or mental disability, or both.
Peter, 61, said: “We both know colleagues who have sustained terrible injuries in combat and had their lives changed forever. We feel lucky that we are both still fit and healthy enough to take on his challenge and so we want to give something back by helping others who may not have had the same opportunities.”
The pair, who will row for 24 hours a day in two hour, shifts, have received glowing endorsements from high-profile dignitaries including retired chief of the general staff, General Sir Mike Jackson.
General Sir Mike Jackson said: “These two airborne warriors served with me as young men and I am delighted to see that age hasn’t mellowed their determined spirit.
“I have no doubt they will succeed against any odds and I will be supporting them all the way.”
Royal British Legion Industries chief executive Brigadier Steve Sherry CMG OBE, who served in the Armed Forces for 38 years, said: “What Peter and Neil are doing is a testament to the commitment and drive of both serving and former service personnel, who have in them engrained the mentality to take on extraordinarily difficult challenges.
“We are immensely proud that they have chosen RBLI as one of their chosen charities for whom to fundraise.
“The money raised will go directly to helping veterans receive the support they need to find sustainable employment and get their lives back on track – whether that is through our social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company; our transformative employment support programme for service leavers, LifeWorks; or through the accommodation we have available in our Aylesford village.”
The Grandads are currently fundraising for specialist equipment, clothing and rations. All proceeds after their costs will be donated to RBLI, Dreams Come True and Support Our Paras. To donate to the cause, visit: www.grandadsoftheatlantic.com/donate