Two young women have captured the attention of people across the world as they strive on to row the Atlantic in memory of their friend from Barford, who died from cervical cancer.
As we previously reported, Hannah Lawton and Lauren Moreton set out in December in their attempt to row from La Gomera in Tenerife to the English Harbour in Antigua in 75 days - breaking the existing 2007 record. They are aiming to raise £100,000 for Myton Hospice in Warwick, where their friend Eleanor Rose Ellis died at the age of 23 in May 2012, and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, another charity that supported her.
Unfortunately, the 75-day target was not achieved - but, more than a week on and a broken rudder, the two friends remain determined to make it to their destination, taking Eleanor, who lived in Barford, as a form of inspiration.
Writing on their blog on February 11, Lauren said: “So here we are. The 11th of Febuary 2014 … with just a mere 1,160 miles to go! Ha oh well, never mind, sometimes things don’t go as you wished or planned and that is a harsh lesson to learn. Alas, fear not, we are still here, smiling, joking and forever determined to finish … one day!”
Admitting that on the day when their rudder broke that she “seriously contemplated suicide” - soon to be followed by splitting her head accidentally, Lauren wrote: “My heart goes out to Hannah, who on the 4th of February woke up to spend her 25th birthday with me in a rather wet and mouldy cabin. I’m pretty sure there are better ways to spend a birthday, but we tried to make the most of it regardless.”
Lauren and Hannah nevertheless congratulated those who had completed the race on time and said: “Together we made the decision not to give in, and as the days stretch out we only grow in determination to finish. Perspective has given us everything we need to push on and continue.”
An active rower while a student at the University of West England, Eleanor - known to friends and family as ‘Belle’ - was also a keen cyclist, having taken part in a coast-to-coast ride for charity, took part in clay pigeon shooting with her dad and had a passion for scuba diving.
Hannah and Lauren said they chose to take on the challenge because Eleanor inspired them, “not just in her ability to fill her life with challenges, but also the courageous and dignified way she faced death.”
Eleanor’s mum Caroline said about her daughter: “When disaster struck, as it did in a very cruel and painful way, everyone watched as Belle pulled herself back from the edge of death again and again.
“She was remarkable. She would not be defeated or allow her terrible illness to dim the light that shone from her.
“Eleanor inspired everyone who knew her and her wonderful, inspirational friends kept making her life worthwhile until the end.”
Myton’s chief executive Kate Lee said: “We are completely overwhelmed by the dedication and endurance of these two extraordinary young women and are behind them all the way. We are so proud to have their support and wish them a safe journey to the finish line.”
To donate towards Hannah and Lauren’s fundraising, visit www.insfriends.org.uk