Dorset Spotlight talks to Ed Smith about competing in the upcoming Talisker Whisky Atlantic Cup Challenge, raising awareness and funds for Victoria’s Promise, whilst keeping the memory of his inspiring wife alive.
DS: Tell us about your incredible wife?
ED: “Anna was an inspiration. From the moment she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, she showed incredible strength and resilience. She was a young mother to our daughter Alba, who was 18 months old when she passed. She was very brave and did not complain.”
Anna was a former Firearms Police Officer. She lost her battle with cancer in June 2018, at the young age of 38. Always thinking and making time for others, Anna and Ed raised £31,000 for Macmillan Cancer Research and Basingstoke Hospital. Ed and his friends competed in the Winter Fan Dance Series, battling the elements and tricky terrain across Pen Y fan.
ED: “I have always been a keen and competitive sportsman, but I think my first challenge with Anna gave me a new sense of adventure.”
Ed and his friends also raced in the Montane Spine Challenger, raising £24,000 for Victoria’s Promise.
Ed served 15 years in the Thames Valley and Metropolitan Police Service, his last 9-years as a Firearms officer and Counter-Terrorist Specialist. When Anna passed away, Ed felt that a change of direction was needed. His role in the police was not a typical 9-5 job, and he needed to be around for their daughter Alba. An opportunity arose to be the Fundraising Manager for Victoria’s Promise. Ed jumped at the chance to work with the charity that helped his wife so wonderfully after her diagnosis.
Victoria’s Promise is a charity dedicated to supporting young women and their families through cancer and beyond.
Three months ago, Victoria’s Promise launched a National Community App providing a supportive community for women aged 18-50 years old and their families. The VP app provides a private chat room where women diagnosed with cancer can meet, speak openly, voicing any worries or concerns with others who are going through the same thing, leaving the women feeling uplifted and empowered. There is also a separate ‘room’ for families and friends to chat privately.
Victoria’s Promise also runs weekly webinars on topics to help them cope with their cancer diagnoses, such as mental well-being, relaxation, nutrition, sleep therapy, yoga, and other creative activities.
DS: What an epic challenge to undertake! So, what made four friends decide to row 3000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean and compete in Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge?
Ed: “It was Rob’s idea.”
Rob spent seventeen years working as a policeman for Thames Valley Police. He retired as a Chief Inspector. Rob has recently transitioned to a plant-based diet and is hoping to row the Atlantic fuelled purely by plants.
Ed: “Rob came to me after witnessing four British lads break the 2018 record of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 29 days. Rob said he wanted to do it and did I fancy joining him. After agreeing, Rob’s wife said I would not survive 60 days on a boat with him, so we needed to find more people!”
Ed will row from La Gomera to Antigua with his three friends Rob Murray, Adam Green and Jack Biss.
Adam is the only one to have previous rowing experience, racing in a team of eight and four at Reading Rowing Club. He also has over 20-years’ experience working as a multi-skilled engineer in the Electricity industry, managing the operation of power stations. The team are hoping his skill set will come in handy with any onboard boat problems.
Jack relishes endurance challenges and spent 6-years sprint training and competing in the 400m event up to the National level. Jack has taken part in 6 worldwide unsupported cycling races, ranging from 440 miles in Dusseldorf to 2242 miles from the UK to Turkey.
DS: So, you all said yes to the challenge. What happened next? How did you turn an idea into a reality?
Ed: “We started talking about this challenge 2 years ago. One day we realised we had been talking about it for so long and had not done anything about it. So, we signed up there and then, paid the deposit, and started spreading the word.”
DS: What training have you been doing for this event?
Ed: “We are delighted to have Dan Harris training us. He is the British Rowing World Class Start Coach. He heads the GB starter programme at Bath University, where they identify, recruit, and develop individuals with no prior rowing experience to become Olympic rowers.
We are also very thankful to have on our team:
- Phil Harris. He is a Physiotherapist and sports injury specialist who has worked with national and international squads, including the Olympics, Paralympics, and Commonwealth Games.
- Phillipa Green is Adam’s wife. She is a qualified nutritionist and owner of Savernake Nutrition.
- Tom Young is a Performance Psychologist, specialising in team dynamics and leadership.”
DS: Tell us about the boat aptly named Anna Victorious you will be using to compete?
Ed: “We will be competing in a Rannoch R45 Rowing boat, which is 28ft long and 5ft wide. The boat is fibreglass, like a big bathtub and made for the ocean.”
DS: How long do you think it will take you to cross the Atlantic?
Ed: “The record is 3000 miles in 29 days. We are hoping it will take us between 35-40 days.”
DS: Is there anything that makes you nervous about undertaking the challenge?
Ed: “There were 3 or 4 incidents at the last race where a Marlin fish pierced through the hull of boats. That could make things interesting!”
DS: I see you have been training in Poole Harbour. How has Sunseeker Poole been helping you with your challenge?
Ed: “Sunseeker have been incredibly supportive of our challenge. They very generously agreed to store the boat at Sunseeker Poole and are on hand to crane the boat in and out of the water when needed. We are also lucky to have some high-profile sponsors. City Asset Management PLC, Porsche Retail Group and Vodafone are to name a few. We are looking for more sponsorship and have packages ranging from £5,000 to £20,000. The team can give inspiring corporate talks on anything from resilience to our experience as armed police officers.”
Dorset Spotlight wishes the crew of the Anna Victorious a successful challenge and looks forward to following their progress on social media.
If you would like to follow the Anna Victorious progress, like to donate, or become a sponsor – full details are at www.annavictorious.co.uk