Lee Spencer, ‘The Rowing Marine’, enjoyed a cup-of-tea and a chat with Prince Harry ahead of his return to Gibraltar today, from where he will launch his bid to become the first physically disabled person to row solo from mainland Europe to mainland South America.
Setting off from the Rock on January 18 in nothing but a seven-metre rowing boat, Mr Spencer will attempt to row solo and unsupported 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean on behalf of The Endeavour Fund and the Royal Marines Charity.
This double Guinness world record effort aims to set a new world record and also to attempt to beat the current able bodied record of 96 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes.
Mr Spencer is on a personal mission to challenge the perceptions around disabilities.
He lives in Tavistock, Devon, but was made in the Royal Marine’s. Despite surviving 24 years as a Marine and three operational tours of Afghanistan unscathed, Mr Spencer lost his right leg when he stopped to help a motorist on the M3 in Surrey in 2014.
He was hit by flying debris as he made his way to the stricken vehicle and his right leg was severed in the impact.
Upon meeting Prince Harry, Lee commented: “Prince Harry’s support and the work he and the Endeavour Fund do has made a very big difference to many people’s lives and in a very real way.”
“When you meet him you feel an overwhelming sense of fellowship and I particularly respect the fact he has kept and will continue to keep wounded and injured servicemen and women in the nations conscience and that he genuinely cares.”
“I am extremely proud to be able to raise awareness of the Endeavour Fund and the work they do in supporting the recovery of servicemen and women.”
“I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to share the details and reasons why I am doing my challenge with Prince Harry directly.”
“It has made me incredibly proud and determined and I will carry with me his words of support across every one of the 3,500 Atlantic ocean miles I am about to face.”
“I don’t believe anyone should be defined by something they can’t do or their limitations. It’s about rediscovering who you are, not redefining who you are and being labelled. I hope I am able to inspire all those who seek to rediscover themselves and raise awareness and funds for two very worthy charities who have supported and inspired me”.
During this feat of extraordinary physical and mental endurance, Mr Spencer will battle 30 foot waves and 3,500 miles of unpredictable Ocean in nothing more than a 7 metre long ocean rowing boat.
Suffering from sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue, sea-sickness, fear and solitude he will be out of helicopter range and totally unsupported on the water.
Mr Spencer feels passionately about helping keep wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women at the forefront of people’s minds alongside challenging the embedded preconceptions that impact all those with disabilities.
The double Guinness World Record attempt will raise awareness and money for the Royal Marines Charity and the Endeavour Fund, which supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.
As Mr Spencer leaves the Rock on January 18 Ocean Village are extending an open invitation for the public to go down to the marina to wave him off.
“Ocean Village offers an open invitation for members of the public to come down and wave Lee off on his epic journey and wish him God speed as he battles with all that the Atlantic Ocean will undoubtedly throw at him,” said William Bowman, Ocean Village Marina Director.
“Having rowed across the Atlantic as part of a team of four disabled rowers in recent years you might imagine that would be enough of a contest for any individual. But Lee is not just any individual, he is a truly inspirational person that continues to go to extraordinary lengths to raise money for projects that he is passionate about. We are delighted and hugely proud here at Ocean Village Marina that he has chosen this venue to start his remarkable record challenges,” he added.