Marine ‘press-ganged’ into ocean bid

20/8/2011'Atlantic rower Graham Witham at his Piccotts End Home, Hemel Hempstead
20/8/2011'Atlantic rower Graham Witham at his Piccotts End Home, Hemel Hempstead

A FORMER Royal Marine will spend up to eight weeks rowing across the Atlantic in the Royal Navy’s smallest ship to raise money for charity.

Graham Witham, who works for the boss of Marks and Spencer, will join three of his former colleagues to row from Gran Canaria to the Caribbean in December in an attempt to set the fastest time for rowing across the Atlantic.

Graham, 43, of Piccotts End, was a marine for seven years after signing up at the age of 16, and achieved the rank of Lance Corporal before he left the forces.

He said: “Basically I went to a marines reunion about a year ago and when I woke up the next day I received some texts saying things like good effort and proud of you.

“Apparently I’d agreed to go at some point during that evening – something that I still deny emphatically!”

The four, including fellow former marines Aldo Diana, Ken Maynard and Jason Howard-Ady, will be raising money for The Prostate Cancer Charity and will depart in December to enjoy cooler and more predictable weather.

Graham added: “The hope is that we can follow the storms across without ending up in one. If anything goes wrong, we basically all swim...although we do have a lifeboat.

“Two of the guys I’m going with, Aldo and Ken, have attempted the journey before but were sunk when a tanker hit their boat. Fortunately the same tanker rescued them.”

Their boat, known as HM&S Twiggy was launched last December by the model Twiggy, has special dispensation to be a Royal Navy vessel. To find out more and donate visit www.prostatemarksmen.com