Atlantic rowers Greg Bailey and Jude Massey were greeted by hundreds of supporters in Lymington as they returned to their hometown
The brothers rowed the Atlantic Ocean unsupported to raise money for the British Skin Foundation to fund vital skin cancer research, and in memory of Jude's father (Greg's step-father) Pete Massey, who lost his 16 year battle with skin cancer two years ago. So far the pair have raised a monumental £92,000 and they are hoping this figure will move closer to their goal of £100,000 when other pledges are received.
Greg, Jude and their Mum, Alexandra Massey, were brought back to Southampton by P&O Cruises on Britannia, enabling them to spend time recovering from their arduous voyage. Whilst on board the pair enthralled other passengers as they spoke in detail about their 53 day row from Gran Canaria to Barbados and the many challenges they had faced throughout the journey.
After being dropped off in back in Southampton, a flotilla of boats greeted their arrival in Lymington (depsite the cold, rainy conditions!). Lymington Rowing Club shivered in the freezing conditions as they waited for their fellow oarsmen (and oarswomen) and several sailors in their tiny Optimist dinghies tacked back and forth. Local sponsors, BHG Marine, Lymington Yacht Haven and Bartley Marketing were all out in RIBs, along with many other locals in motor boats and yachts. As the Ocean Brothers arrived at the mustering flotilla a huge cheer went up, accompanied by air horns and whistles. It was quite a welcome and an incredible sight for Greg and Jude, as well as for all of us out on the water!
"To see such a massive turnout of people on the shoreside in the pouring rain drew a tear to my eye"
"As we approached the waiting boats, all I could think was how heart warming it was to feel that Lymington people would want to come out in their boat and accompany us in the flotilla," said Greg. "It felt as if all the support we'd heard and read about on social media was really true in the flesh!"
"I was slightly out of my comfort zone having so many boats around us, something we had never experienced before and also so close to each other. I saw a yacht trying to pass the flotilla in the opposite direction and it must have wondered what on Earth was coming its way! To see such a massive turnout of people on the shoreside in the pouring rain drew a tear to my eye. To see Lymington come together and see the greater purpose of this community fired up was one of the most appreciated things I've ever witnessed."
Over the last 18 months, Greg and Jude have touched the hearts of many people, initially in the local area and increasingly nationwide following coverage of their tranatlantic row in regional media and on the BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Breakfast Show. Their humble determination to raise funds for the British Skin Foundation and to carry out a monumental unsupported 3,000 mile row in memory of their late father and step-father has made them a household name. What's more the brothers are seriously lovely, levelheaded and good fun. They have time for everyone and delight in all who have shown and interest in their boat, their challenge and their cause. That so many ventured out in wind, rain and freezing conditions to welcome the brothers home is true testament to their popularity.
Rapturous applause at The Haven
The Haven Bar & Restaurant was packed with supporters, sponsors, family and friends. As the brothers entered the bar the place simply erupted!
"I hadn't considered everyone would be expecting our arrival in The Haven, so when we walked in and heard the roar of so many familiar and new faces I honestly was buzzing and shocked," said Greg. "It felt electric in there and charged with energy - I could have rowed another ocean with that feeling right there and then!"
After a beer and many welcome home hugs and pats on the back, it was time for a few speeches. Greg and Jude thanked everyone who have helped them achieve their transatlantic row, including local sponsors and partners (amongst them Bartley Marketing, BHG Marine, New Forest Cottages, Everton Hyundai and Azara Marine), plus of course Lymington Yacht Haven and The Haven team.
To donate to the Ocean Brothers, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oceanbrothers