70-year-old Bear Grylls Island survivor from Oldham to row the Atlantic solo for dementia research
Star of ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’, Frank Rothwell, will be embarking on the biggest challenge of his life at 70 years old, when he attempts to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean solo.
Frank Rothwell, from Oldham, will be taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge later this year and hopes to become the oldest person to complete it solo. He will cast off from the Canary Islands in December, with the hope of reaching Antigua, and reuniting with his wife of 50 years, Judith, the following Valentine’s Day.
Frank, who turned 70 this week, is taking on the treacherous row for Alzheimer’s Research UK. He aims to raise £1million for the charity – the largest amount ever raised by a single rower in the challenge – after witnessing the devastating impact of dementia.
During his gruelling expedition, Frank will spend his days switching between two hours of rowing and two hours of sleeping, while living off freeze-dried food. Frank, who has survived prostate cancer, has been training on a rowing machine during the COVID-19 lockdown, but he’s now able to row in the open water. He says the biggest challenge of all will be being away from Judith.
This isn’t Frank’s first adventure. He previously spent five weeks on a deserted island for the Channel 4 programme, ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’. Before that, Frank was only the 10th person to ever circumnavigate North and South America by boat.
The businessman is self-funding the whole trip, so all money raised will go to Alzheimer’s Research UK. There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia, yet no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that cause it. The charity’s mission is to bring about the first life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the charity is predicting its income may fall by up to 45%, meaning Frank’s fundraising will offer a vital lifeline to dementia research.
Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, a long-term supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK, will be match-funding the first £500,000 worth of donations.
Frank, who is a father of two and grandfather of three, said:
“Rowing across the Atlantic Ocean solo, and unsupported, is the biggest challenge I can imagine without taking on too much risk or endangering others. It makes all the other things I have done seem like a walk in the park! My biggest individual challenge is going to be loneliness and missing my darling wife Judith. I will also miss a proper steak. It will be tough, but my motto is ‘you’re never too old!’”
Speaking about why he’s taking on the challenge, Frank added:
“I would like to make a positive difference with my life, so that’s why I’m dedicating 18 months to raising much-needed funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I’ve seen the heartbreak dementia causes, but at the moment there are no treatments to make it easier, slow down its onset, never mind cure it. By investing now in Alzheimer’s Research UK, we can do something to eradicate this terrible condition for our children and grandchildren. So, I’d be grateful to anyone who is able to support.”
Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We’re in awe of Frank for taking on this enormous challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic solo is a daunting prospect for anyone, but Frank’s enthusiasm and energy should inspire all of us to not let anything hold us back.
“Frank’s determination in embarking on a challenge that others may deem impossible is exactly the attitude we need to overcome dementia. Without life-changing preventions and treatments, one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. But as a result of COVID-19, critical progress in dementia research is at stake, so the £1million Frank hopes to raise will be crucial in helping our pioneering researchers regain momentum in their search for a much-needed cure. We’re incredibly grateful to Frank, and to Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation for their generous support. We’d love to see the public and business get behind Frank by making a donation, if they are able to do so. We wish Frank the best of luck and can’t wait to hear his updates from the Atlantic!”
Sir Malcolm Walker, Founder and Executive Chairman of Iceland Foods, said:
“Having known Frank for many years, I’m not surprised by this latest challenge but I’m still very impressed. Frank is an adventurer at heart and I’m excited to hear how he gets on with his next expedition. I’m truly grateful to Frank for taking on this challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK, having witnessed first-hand the devastation dementia causes. I’m delighted that Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation is able to match-fund the first £500,000 of donations to this cause, as dementia research needs our support more than ever before.”
Donate to Frank’s fundraising challenge here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/frankrothwell
Adventurer Frank will be taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge later this year.