Soldiers & Students Row Around the Clock for Charity

Despite freezing temperatures in December, teams of soldiers and students rowed round the clock at Colchester’s Lion Walk Shopping Centre to raise money for local, military and student charities and build links between Colchester Garrison and University of Essex.

The ‘Row 4 Colchester’ challenge saw soldiers from The Parachute Regiment take on students from University of Essex Rowing Club (UERC) in a race to row the furthest distance in 24 hours.

In total, the two teams covered 859 miles – 20 miles further than the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats – with paratroopers outdistancing the students by 445 miles to 414 miles.

The challenge raised money for Rotary Club of Colchester, University of Essex Students’ Union, The Parachute Regiment Charity and Combat Stress, with online donations and collection buckets yielding approximately £2,000.

Mayor of Colchester Cllr Chris Arnold visited the rowers as they crossed the finishing line. He said: “This has been an arduous challenge to raise money for worthwhile causes. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in an excellent initiative to bring together two of the great institutions of Colchester – the Army and University of Essex.”

UERC vice-president Dave Havis said: “The challenge’s been both tough and really good fun. The public have been incredibly generous in both their encouragement and donations which have really helped keep us going, particularly when it was -5°C at 3am. We’ve really got on well with the soldiers and the challenge has helped break down the stereotype that they’re big and scary and students are lazy! We want to keep the relationship going and get soldiers out on the water rowing with us.”

Col Jackson, Dep Cdr of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: “The University of Essex and Colchester Garrison are both made up of people of similar age and mindset, and it is fantastic to have come together to raise money for charity. “Rowing is a fantastic sport and hopefully we have introduced some of our soldiers to it and we can work with UERC to develop their skills.”

Further Reading
The Rotary Club of Colchester has collected on behalf of hard pressed families in Colchester for a number of years and has had considerable success in alleviating poverty for young families. www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/homepage.php?ClubID=1401

University of Essex Students’ Union is independent from the university and provides students with free, confidential and independent advice. www.essexstudent.com/

The Parachute Regiment Charity was established to support soldiers of the Parachute Regiment and their families, as well as Airborne Forces members who need help. paracharity.org/

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the care of veterans’ mental health. www.combatstress.org.uk

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