Happy New Year to you! As the second week of the new year begins, Give Them a Sporting Chance begins to celebrate its 25th year of helping others and plans are well underway for two challenges. The first will be taking place in February, the second will take place in June.


Sporting Chance CMYK Melissa Adams Angelman Foundation

The first challenge will be taking place near Blackpool on February 21st. This challenge is to carry a sedan chair from Lytham St Annes, following the coast up to Blackpool. Unfortunately for us sedan chair carriers, the chair won’t be empty… Inside the chair, motivating us, will be Melissa Adams. Melissa is the little girl I have previously written about who suffers from Angelman Syndrome. To help with this challenge, I have called upon some of my crew mates from the London to Paris rowing team (2013). Hopefully, Ed will keep our minds off the challenge with his wit and banter, much as he did during the 2013 row. We will be raising funds for and awareness of Angelman Syndrome, so if you’re in the area or know someone in the come and along and support us! Please visit www.researchangelman.org.uk for more information on Melissa Adams and Angelman Syndrome.


The second challenge will be taking place in Cheltenham on June 21st. As part of ‘Give Them a Sporting Chance’s’ 25th birthday, we at GTaSC have teamed up with the organisers of the Cheltenham Challenge.

GTaSC is raising a minimum of five teams of five people to compete in the 10km course of the Cheltenham Challenge. Each person will run 10km, then when the fifth person has completed the 10km course, the whole team completes the 5km course, starting and finishing as a team. These 25 people will be representing 25 individual military orientated charities. If you would like to be one of the 25, please do get in touch with me. If you would rather run a shorter (5km) or longer (half marathon, marathon or ultra), then please do contact the Cheltenham Challenge direct – www.cheltenhamchallenge.org.uk

So far, the ‘On Course Foundation‘ and ‘The Not Forgotten Association‘ have all agreed to be represented in the 10km Silver Challenge.

On Course Foundation

The Not Forgotten Association


An Honour

CM Cotswold Life Mag image

I’m very proud to announce that Veterans In Action (VIA) have kindly asked me to be one of their Patrons. It is an honour, as I do strongly believe in helping those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I hope through my challenges, I can count on you to help me help them.

Read here what Billy MacLeod of VIA has to say:  http://www.veteransinaction.org.uk/patron-charlie-martell-i-163.php

The Man and The Angel

Veterans In Action






The “Man” – Several years ago, Ben Goss, Adrian Bell and I were sitting down to our first “Pacific 2012” meeting in a well known coffee shop chain in Reading when I received a call from Billy MacLeod. Billy, a former Sapper (Royal Engineer) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferer was seeking support to enable him to help others suffering from PTSD.

I spoke with Ben (Chairman of Give Them a Sporting Chance (GTaSC)) and asked whether the charity could assist Billy. It only took a few moments for Ben to realise that GTaSC could help Billy and therefore help others through PTSD.

Billy’s dream was realised and Veterans In Action (VIA) was born. VIA, under Billy’s leadership, has gone from strength to strength helping those who suffer from PTSD. You can find more information at www.veteransinaction.org.uk

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the VIA ALIVE Centre and meeting Billy. Our meeting confirmed that I still support Billy and VIA and I’m pleased to announce that I plan to support VIA through my return to The Pacific in 2016.



Melissa Adams Angelman Foundation






“The Angel”Last week, I was made aware of a little girl called Melissa. Melissa suffers from a rare genetic disorder called “Angelman Syndrome”. Melissa can’t speak, nor can she sleep and so this Syndrome affects every part of her life and also her family’s.

Melissa’s Mum has set up a foundation in the hope that a cure can be found for this rare disorder, you can find more information here www.researchangelman.org.uk and www.facebook.com/researchangelman.org.uk

Having communicated with Melissa’s Mum, I have asked a few of my London to Paris rowing event friends to join me in undertaking a challenge for Meliss, where we will aim to raise funds for and awareness of Angelman Syndrome. I hope I can count on you for your support.


Highs and Lows

Champagne at the finish!

Champagne at the finish for Beeline Britain! www.beelinebritain.com


The Great Pacific Race claims to be the biggest, baddest human endurance challenge on the planet, with ocean row boats crewed by one, two or four people competing against each other in the world’s first rowing race on the Pacific. It’s been an epic race so far for all classes with eight of the original thirteen boats still rowing, including just one solo boat being rowed by Britain’s own Elsa Hammond (http://www.elsahammond.com).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/rowing/10685181/Pacific-solo-rowing-challenge-Elsa-Hammond-in-record-attempt.html image by Jay Williams

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/rowing/10685181/Pacific-solo-rowing-challenge-Elsa-Hammond-in-record-attempt.html image by Jay Williams

Elsa is battling on, trying to get further west of mainland USA heading for Hawaii. Good luck Elsa! You can follow Elsa and the other crews via www.greatpacificrace.com


After 4 years of hard work, planning, preparing, saving, training and bringing a dream to reality, Niall set off from New York aboard his solo ocean rowing boat ‘Alliance Trust’. NI had faced a number of ups a and downs over the years and indeed prior to departing from New York, but finally he was off… NI was making good steady progress east on his solo historic row towards Stornoway when he suffered an injury to his head and back.

From https://www.facebook.com/NY2SY “At about 4.00pm on Friday afternoon, 9 days into my row, I had just finished stowing my oars and was getting ready to get into the cabin to get some sleep when I was hit by a wave on the starboard beam that caused me to lose my balance and fall. This wave just caught me unawares and the boat seemed to just drop down straight off the back of it, instead of sliding down, and this sudden jolt threw me into one of the oar storage stanchions, where I hit my head, and then I fell backwards into the footwell of the boat. It all happened very quickly and I knew instantly from the pain in my lower back that I was in trouble. The pain was such that it took me about 15 mins to actually get myself out of the footwell and sitting up on the side of the boat. I was in terrible pain and even the smallest movement was causing me to call out. It was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to continue rowing and that I may well have suffered a serious spinal injury. Given the circumstances, I felt that the only option was to call the Coastguard and ask for help.”

Niall Iain Macdonald www.ny2sy.co.uk

Niall Iain Macdonald www.ny2sy.co.uk

Having been recovered from an ocean myself, I know first hand how it feels to have put so much energy in to getting to the start point only to find that this time is not your time. Few words of comfort from others help, it’s a time to reflect and to wrangle with the feelings of disappointment. Personally, I felt I had let down everyone, my family, friends and my sponsors too. Time is a healer and that’s a fact. I have not forgotten the feelings, but I have come to terms with what happened. NI, I hope you too come to terms with the recent events, take stock and then decide what’s best for you. I wish you all the best my friend.


My previous life taught me to always end on a high so… Congratulations to Beeline Britain! The Beeline Britain Team of Ian O’Grady (RAF), Nick Beighton (RE), Adam Harmer and Tori James have completed the first ever ‘Land’s End to John O’Groat’s in a straight line’!

courtesy of www.beelinebritain.com

courtesy of www.beelinebritain.com

To learn more about Beeline Britain’s achievements www.beelinebritain.com and https://www.facebook.com/beelinebritain

Some pretty cool facts…

The Teams peak altitude was 1309m above sea level.

The fastest they travelled on their bikes was just over 50miles per hour.

They have covered a distance of around 1,300kilometres (if you include all the wiggles!)

Nick (double above knee amputee) has done over 1 million repetitions with his arms over the course of this trip.

Awesome effort Team, well done!

You can follow me, Charlie Martell on www.facebook.com and on Twitter – @charliemartell1

Water mainly…

Since completing the Devizes to Westminster race, I look upon other challenges people (mainly people I consider and am proud to call friends) are undertaking, pushing their limits and raising funds for charities in the process.

Flying For Freedom (FFF) now has four trained and qualified solo WIS* microlight pilots with one more in training. These pilots will spearhead FFF’s inaugural expedition, the British Antarctic Microlight Expedition. It’s not all about the exped though… military (serving or ex) WIS personnel can be part of the legacy programme and can learn to fly microlights thanks to sponsors and public financial support. Read more about what’s happening in the air www.flyingforfreedom.org
*Wounded, Injured, Sick


Niall Iain Macdonald is now in New York, along with his solo ocean rowing boat “Alliance Trust”. After several years of not only planning this challenge, but also having to put it on hold several times, NI is about to embark on his solo unsupported rowing challenge from the Big Apple to Stornoway – approximately 3,400 miles it may take NI 3 or more months to complete. This route is the less chosen route with only ten ever rowing it solo. NI will be the first person to row to Stornoway!
NI raising awareness and funds for the ‘Scottish Association for Mental Health’ and has set himself a fundraising target of £100,000.
If you would like to follow or even better, to donate, then please visit www.ny2sy.co.uk Good Luck NI!


Starting on 18 May 2014 a team of four will attempt to become the first people to complete a straight-line journey from one end of Britain to the other. This unique expedition has never been attempted before and is an audacious take on an iconic UK challenge. The route will travel through some of the most extreme coastal, mountain and urban environments that the UK has to offer. It guarantees to be incredibly challenging, both physically and mentally, but also hugely rewarding.
This strong team of four includes a serving RAF Aircrew, a serving Army Captain and Team GB Paralympian, a professional kayak coach and the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest. All will bring their own expertises but each will also face their own challenges along the way (Nick has no legs and Tori is 5′ 1” tall!).
The journey will be completed by sea kayaking, hand bike/road bike and a section of mountaineering over the Cairngorms plateaux, one of the most exposed mountain ranges in the UK.
A lot of work has been devoted to ensure this route is feasible. There are several sections of water that have never been crossed as a single journey before…
When linked together the various stages create one of the most committing and bizarrely obvious journeys possible within the UK! The kayaking will be by far the most committing part of the journey and makes up the bulk of the trip distance.
The team are proud to be supported by The Endeavour Fund and will be raising funds for BLESMA, the Limbless Verterans Charity.
Follow the beeline here www.beelinebritain.com

From one rowing boat to many…
The Great Pacific Race is the biggest, baddest human endurance challenge on the planet. Ocean row boats crewed by one, two or four compete against each other in the world’s first rowing race on the Pacific. On June 7th 2014 teams from around the world will set out on a 2,400 mile journey on the world’s largest ocean from Monterey, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. This epic journey is expected to take between 30 and 90 days depending on the size of the crew and the weather. Each boat carries no sails or engines and is only moved by the muscle of the crew pulling on the oars.
For more information on the race, you can find more information when the website www.greatpacificrace.com goes live very soon. Watch this space!

You can follow me, Charlie Martell on www.facebook.com and/or Twitter – @charliemartell1

Devizes to Westminster, 125 miles by kayak

Passing through Hungerford

Passing through Hungerford

The Easter weekend once again saw the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (“DW”) take place. The race sees the senior doubles depart Devizes on Easter Saturday, heading down the avon & Kennett canal towards Reading. At Reading the crews have an enforced portage, prior to heading down the Thames towards Teddington. Crews must reach Teddington within the tide gate (30mins before high tide to 3hrs 30mins after high tide), or risk being stopped at Teddington until the next high tide.

Just been fed, ready for the off.

Just been fed, ready for the off.

Once again, I opted to undertake this gruelling endurance race in a folding kayak, commonly referred to as a Klepper. The ‘Klepper’ is a heavy, wide and slow beast of a kayak, not designed for racing, but designed for carrying equipment. It certainly adds an extra slant to the race, knowing that racing a klepper is probably the hardest thing to do in DW Race terms.
This year, five folding kayaks entered the race, with three actually taking part. One more than last year.
The conditions this year were a lot more favourable than last year (2013 sub zero temperatures were experienced), that said a persistent head wind and lack of flow made for another tough DW race.
For us, the race didn’t go according to plan. We were hoping to beat last year’s time of 26hrs 8 mins, but due to various issues including a time consuming but repairable technical issue, we managed to miss the tide gate, delaying our arrival at Westminster.
We did notice a number of slower crews in K2s deciding to retire from the race in the vicinity of Teddington. I realise they have their reasons, but Westminster is approximately a three hour paddle from Teddington… most, if not all kayaks could have reached Westminster with relatively little effort.
We continued to Westminster, rather than give up… arriving at 2210hrs on Easter Sunday, some 37hrs and 46 minutes after leaving Devizes. We finished!

I extend my sincere thanks to our support crew, our supporters, the DW Race staff and those who very kindly donated to my chosen charities, Give Them a Sporting Chance and Talking 2 Minds.

Old Rivals

On behalf of Flying For Freedom’s inaugural exped the British Antarctic Microlight Expedition, I’m still pushing on with raising funds for two 4×4 vehicles, capable of withstanding Antarctic conditions. Some funds have been raised for the two vehicles, but still short of our target and so still a long way from securing them. We have our eyes on either Land Rover or Toyota and fans from both camps would no doubt argue their cases on which marque is better and why. Irrespective of marque, the vehicles must be adapted for the extreme conditions they will be working in.

Irrespective of which marque you prefer, can you help us? Can your family help us? Can your friends and colleagues help us? We still have lots to do and really need your support. Our injured service personnel have overcome their life changing injuries and have qualified as pilots, it’s now up to us to get our pilots, aircraft and vehicles to the Antarctica. We need your help to purchase the vehicles. Please donate here www.bmycharity.com/martellsmissions – it is a cliché but it is true, “every penny counts”. Thanks for supporting us.

Mobile Support

Having returned from Sweden, I’m leading the charge on trying to secure us (British Antarctic Microlight Expedition – www.flyingforfreedom.org) two winterised and Antarctic prepared 4×4 vehicles… There’s no way my 1952 80inch Series 1 Land Rover will make it across the continent, at least not without a massive and costly overhaul.

Providing our mobile ground support team with two vehicles, prepared for the extremely harsh environment Antarctica offers, provides a sponsor with a unique opportunity to be involved in this very special British expedition.

If you are in a position to support us, please contact me. If you know someone you think may be able to support us, even in some small way, please contact me. We need your help to ensure the success of the expedition, enabling our wounded pilots to complete their mission safely.


Video from Sweden: winter training

Thanks to Kirk Watson and his quadrocopter mounted GoPro for this fantastic short video of our training expedition in Northern Sweden.

Sweden to Goodwood

G-CHGA  G-CHGA Sundown

Our training expedition in Northern Sweden can be considered a success in many ways. Our team was almost complete for the first time. Unfortunately, one of our injured servicemen was undergoing further medical treatment so was unable to join us. As a team, we learned a lot about the aircraft and how they perform in particularly cold conditions. The coldest temperature we experienced was -17C, not as cold as Antarctica but cold enough for testing and training. Although some winter training has been completed, we still need to do more. Further training may be taking place in March/April, most likely back in Northern Sweden.

2 Man Tent prep

The Swedish people we met were warm, welcoming and helpful. Everywhere we went, the local people would say “hej hej” (hi hi). I don’t think I have ever been to a place where everyone acknowledges each other. It took us by surprise at first and I’m sure they don’t think much of us when we returned blank looks the first time we were acknowledged.

On our return from Sweden, several of the Flying For Freedom team were invited to Goodwood to meet one of our Royal ‘sponsors’, HRH Prince Harry. He can be seen in the attached image with (l-r), Flying For Freedom founders James Harris and John Laity, as well as one of our injured servicemen who is now a qualified Microlight pilot, Nathan Forster.

Since our return, we have been busy trying to secure further financial support, in particular for two Antarctic prepared 4 x 4 vehicles, which will be used by our mobile ground support team. Without these vehicles, it will be extremely difficult to provide the support out pilots and aircraft need. If you can help, or know someone who may be able to help, please do contact me.

(Main image HRH Prince Harry at Goodwood (courtesy of Kirk Watson), image 2 training microlight, image 3 ice runway, image 4 measuring out for tent)