A BRAVE oarsman has made a desperate appeal to Observer readers for funding as he bids to keep his dream of becoming the first disabled person to complete a solo row across the Pacific Ocean alive.
Richard Wood, from Perdiswell, was left partially paralysed by a stroke in 2006 – just two years after he successfully rowed the Atlantic Ocean on his own.
But the 57-year-old is determined to defy the odds once again as he sets his sights on rowing 7,500 nautical miles – almost double the distance of the Atlantic – across the Pacific from Illo in Peru to Auckland in New Zealand.
However, Mr Wood admitted his hopes of achieving the historic feat would be all but over if he did not secure a sponsor who would be willing to invest £100,000 in the project.
“The aim is still to go in January 2015, but it is just subject to finding a sponsor,” he said.
“The boat is the main thing to fund as it takes about four months to build, so if I got the money tomorrow it would be ready by spring next year. My boat builder is literally waiting to start.
“I have contact hundreds of different organisations, but it has so far come to nothing.
“I would be absolutely ecstatic if I got a sponsor on board. It would make the whole thing possible. If I don’t get the sponsorship then I won’t be able to do the project and I would have to leave it to someone else to get the first.”
As well as becoming the title sponsor of the Pacific advantage, Mr Wood said he hopes they would become heavily involved in his quest to prove there is life after suffering from a stroke.
The father of two said he has been rowing 10,000 metres twice a week in preparation for the year-long voyage, which he is convinced he will be able to complete despite being left paralysed down his left side.
“Whether it is possible or not, your guess is as good as mine, but that is the nature of a first as you’re out to prove it is possible,” he added.
“It will take a huge amount of strength and will power, but I think I can do it.
“There is also a part of me which wants to prove that even if you have had a major catastrophe in your life you can still go on and make your mark on the world if you have got the right support.”
He hopes the challenge will also to raise thousands of pounds for ReActive.
The charity, which he helped to set up, offers support for people recovering from disabling neurological conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the Pacific Row challenge or finding out more information can email [email protected].