Exeter City Academy coach Mickey Turner is embarking on the challenge of a lifetime as he attempts to row across the Atlantic in aid of several charities.
Alongside two companions in the Academy's James Bevan and Exeter Chief's strength and conditioning coach Dom Thorne, Turner will begin his voyage aboard the Cockleshell Endeavour in Gran Canaria this December and aims to make the near 3000 miles journey to the Caribbean island of Barbados in around 30 days for causes such as RMA Royal Marines Charity, The Firefighters Charity, Not Forgotten Association, Veterans United Against Suicide and Go Again Mental Health Consultancy.
Mickey has been a part of the club since the Eamonn Dolan era, overseeing the progression of players such as Matt Grimes, Ollie Watkins and Matt Jay, and is currently a coach mentor, but it is his past that has inspired him to take part in such a mammoth challenge. Mickey is a former Royal Marine and firefighter and has previously suffered with his mental health, so felt he had to take on the challenge that only few have ever completed.
“The project was created a few years ago by a former Royal Marine called Mick Dawson who felt he needed a challenge, so decided he would row the Atlantic with his brother,” Turner said.
“He set up the Cockleshell Endeavour project in 2015 after returning to the Falklands with another veteran Steve Grenham for a visit. It emerged he was suffering with issues related to PTSD, so set it up as a kayaking expedition to help get him back on track after he found no help with the military charities he approached.
“We are doing the challenge under the same name to carry on his good work. This is something I’m really passionate about.
“As a former fire officer I’ve seen a lot over the years so I know all about mental health, so this was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.”
Mickey has stated that the aim for the Transatlantic crossing is a world record 30 days, however the unpredictability of the weather means this could take much longer.
“I’ve been told by one of my sub-officers from when I was younger that I need to be prepared. More people have attempted to climb Mount Everest than have rowed across an ocean, which just shows the scale of what we’re trying to do.
“I’ve been sent some photos of what the ocean can look like, but it hasn’t put me off. The guys that have just done the same challenge did it in 35 days which is amazing, but it’s taken other groups up to 60 days.
“At the moment we’re a crew of three and we’ll be rotating in two hours on then two hours off shifts for 24 hours a day, while one of us rests.”
While the aim of the challenge is to raise money for the charities, Mickey and co are also in search of sponsorship for their vessel, with the team needing £40,000 in order to even get the boat to the water. They have already begun raising funds, and are offering space to potential sponsors, who will see their company logos adorn the ship’s hull, deck and cabins as they undertake their world record attempt. After their target has been reached, any further sponsorship goes directly to the charities.
“You can be rest assured that any money we raise will really be really appreciated by the causes,” Mickey added.
“The lads that have done the row previously have hit six figures. If we can help one person then the money blends into insignificance. This year alone we’ve had over 20 deaths to servicemen and women by suicide. That is a huge loss to this country.”
If you’d like to donate to Mickey’s incredible challenge, visit his donation page here.