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Rowing 2,000 miles for better mental health

18 February 2020

Staff and students are gearing up to row the distance from the North East to Canada to support mental health.

The University community has pledged its support for Row Britannia. It's a fundraising campaign encouraging university teams to row 2020 miles to raise awareness of mental health issues for young people.

Newcastle University staff and students will join the rowing challenge between 2 and 13 March. Rowing machines placed across campus and student accommodation will encourage everyone to row for a mile. You can also make a small donation to support the charity Sport Relief. 

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Day, and Katie Smyth, President of the Student’s Union, will join in. They'll row the challenge on 4 March – a day before University Mental Health Day. 

Phil Packer, Founder and Non-Paid Chief Executive of the British Inspiration Trust launched Row Britannia, met students, Newcastle University Students’ Union sabbatical officers and staff from the Sports Centre to challenge the University to collectively row 2020 miles.

He said: “One of the Row Britannia challenges is the student and staff rowing challenge; an invitation for every university and college in the UK to enter a team (as many students and staff as possible) to reduce isolation, raise positive awareness and row 2020 miles and raise £3,000 for Sport Relief. If every university and college enters a team and raises £3,000, collectively they could raise £1.5million for Sport Relief.

“The support from students and staff throughout the UK so far has been extraordinary and I am delighted that Newcastle University are embracing both challenges.  

“I am delighted to have visited over 70 institutions so far on a 100-day, 200-visit, schedule of every university in the UK and who have been asked to assist and support their local FE colleges. There is huge potential for something very special to be achieved throughout the UK and I am delighted that both challenges are gaining momentum.”

Liam Isaac, Sports Development Officer, Newcastle University, said: “We are delighted that our Students’ Union and their Sabbatical Officers have agreed to co-organise the Row Britannia Challenge with Sports Services.

“As a University, we are excited to take on the Row Britannia Challenge for Sport Relief and raise a considerable amount of money for some extremely good causes, as well as raise awareness of mental health within the University community and signpost where advice, support and practical help can be provided. We are encouraging groups of friends, work colleagues, departments, halls of residences, clubs and societies to do an ‘ice bucket’ style challenge and pass on the event to their friends and colleagues to complete their 1 mile row as part of Row Britannia to ensure that the challenge maintains its momentum throughout its 12 days (2-13 March inclusive).

“I am confident that Newcastle University can unite and row beyond the 2020 mile target set by Phil Packer when he visited Newcastle University on Wednesday 5th March 2020 and wish everyone good luck.”

Donations can be made at the rowing ergo stations or via the Just Giving page.

Find out more about Row Britannia