October 25, 2020

Retired army major bids to row 100 miles in homemade 'Tintanic' for charity

October 18, 2020

An 80-year-old retired army major plans to row 100 miles for charity in his homemade boat, dubbed the Tintanic.

Michael Stanley, known as Major Mick, created his boat - which travels at two miles per hour - using two sheets of corrugated iron, a hosepipe, and curtain hooks.

He has set a target of using it to row 100 miles along the Chichester canal in West Sussex to raise money for St Wilfrid's Hospice in Bosham.

Mr Stanley, who served in The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for 35 years, said he was inspired to create the boat during lockdown after he had seen tin boats being used when visiting India.

He said: "I got two sheets of corrugated iron, put them together and tried to make them float. The initial attempts were not good because it wasn't stable and I was tipped into the sea twice and had total immersion.

"Then I developed the buoyancy fenders on both sides and it's now reasonably stable, the only slight problem is when I get in and out, but I think I have mastered it now."

Mr Stanley, who is from Chichester, added that his wife's garden kneeling pad is the only luxury he has on board. "It's how I imagine sitting in a Rolls-Royce," he said.

Commenting on reactions from the public, he said: "My reward is seeing people's faces, and what they are thinking I don't mind as long as it puts a smile on their faces, as in these times we need something to smile about.

"I have been called all sorts of things... 'Merry Major', 'Legend', 'Awesome', 'Mad Major'... some woman said 'I love you sir', which is a bit over the top.

"The most telling comment is the teenagers who said: 'That's really cool.' For an 80-year-old to be called 'cool' by a teenager is something special.

"It's fun and I really enjoy it and the generosity of the general public is wonderful, we have such nasty news but at its core it's a fantastic country."

The veteran began the challenge on 26 September and has raised nearly £9,000 - surpassing his original target of £1,000.

Alex Burch, St Wilfrid's Hospice community fundraising manager, said: "We are very proud so many people like Major Mick are willing to get active for St Wilfrid's, finding new and exciting ways to support end-of-life care in their local community. Thank you, Major Mick, stay safe and dry on your voyages."

Mr Stanley plans to complete the 100-mile journey in stages, with the aim of finishing by 18 December.

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