WHEN four burly blokes surround you and ask you to do a job for them it is difficult to decline.
Fortunately they are a quartet of top men who are aiming to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic and they want some help with a charity dinner then the decision to say yes is easy.
Will Quarmby, Fraser Mowlem, Glyn Sadler and Duncan Roy will set out on their quest from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December and attempt to get to Antigua in the Caribbean in less 29 days.
But before that they have had to train and raise enough money to compete in the challenge alongside holding down full time jobs and finding time to spend with their families.
Duncan Roy told me that the biggest challenge for most teams that want to enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is often not the epic row itself but raising the near £100,000 it costs to take part in the race.
I first met the Row4Victory boys at Welcome to Yorkshire’s stand at the Great Yorkshire Show last year when they told me of their ambitious plan to not just row the Atlantic in a tiny boat but to do it in a world record time.
It sounded a crazy idea and I wished them well, but not before introducing them to Welcome to Yorkshire Y30 member Nic Marshall, who said his firm, a growing Hull-based telemarketing business, called ResQ, would probably not be the best brand name for their boat to have emblazoned on it.
But the lads shared Nic’s sense of humour and a deal was struck for ResQ to become a gold sponsor of Team Row4Victory.
A year on I met the team again at the Great Yorkshire Show and learned that the diligence and ambition they have given to their training has also been applied to their networking in search of sponsorship.
Welcome to Yorkshire has backed the team and has helped introduce them to a number of great Yorkshire businesses that have become sponsors, including Harrogate-based business energy provider CNG.
Another gold sponsor of Team Row4Victory is Grantley Hall, the luxury hotel being created near Ripon in North Yorkshire by the Sykes family.
They not only sponsored the team but also offered Duncan Roy a job as director of Grantley Hall’s spa and elite performance centre.
As I said, these boys are both impressive and persuasive.
I have a reader of this blog to thank for getting the job to compere the recent Row4Victory charity dinner.
Entrepreneur Chris Lord, who founded shop display manufacturer Bartuf Systems, and a former British rallying champion, read about their exploits right here.
He then met them when they displayed their boat at York Races in July.
Talk turned to their upcoming charity event and Chris told them they should speak to me about compering it.
And I’m thankful that he did because the event, held at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate on a balmy Saturday evening in early September was wonderful.
That’s if you enjoy listening to me.
I introduced the evening, interviewed the team, profiled the charities that will benefit from their exploits, introduced the raffle and silent auction and then, slightly nerve wrackingly, conducted the charity auction.
However that was helped by having Duncan demonstrate the rowing machine which was among the auction lots.
I’m pleased to say that the event was a huge success and raised more than £15,000 for the two charities the team are supporting, the Royal British Legion and Soldier On! which both support ex-service personnel.
The team use the simple motto of:
You can’t help emotionally connect with what they are doing.
But you can also have some fun with them too.
When I introduced them, the boys were all wearing dinner suits tailored by historic Yorkshire clothing business Brook Taverner.
I said I knew that they are searching for a replacement for Daniel Craig as James Bond and we’d got four to choose from here.
When Glyn, Fraser, Duncan and Will came up to the stage for a Q&A session – pictured above – I said they looked a bit like a Yorkshire version of Il Divo, which the 220-strong audience liked.
And the Q&A took a lively turn when Nic Marshall’s wife and business partner Gill Marchbank enquired whether it was true that the boys would be doing most of their rowing naked.
They confirmed that was true and when I asked what they would be doing when mid-Atlantic on Christmas Day, they left us with an indelible image of them rowing starkers wearing nothing but Santa hats.
I don’t know if they have bells on.
Rather than just toss a coin for the traditional ‘heads and tails’ game, I came up with some unusual questions for the audience.
Surprisingly, my first question saw more than half the room sit down having got it wrong.
Having been to La Gomera, I was aware of its claim to fame as the setting out point for Christopher Columbus on his epic voyage of discovery.
But most of the room plumped for the alternative choice of Vasco da Gama.
It still gave me time to ask some questions about the history of Grantley Hall, CNG’s involvement in the Knaresborough Bed Race and also profile the challenges undertaken by Nic Marshall of ResQ – which include cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and, perhaps most impressive of all, swimming the Humber estuary.
The one man in the team who isn’t either a former or serving member of the armed forces is Will Quarmby, who runs Quarmby’s Deli in the village of Sheriff Hutton.
So I asked whether, last Christmas, the deli stocked a range of chocolate truffles shaped like brussels sprouts or kumquats.
(It was sprouts).
You have to get inventive in my game.
It’s called adding value.
I don’t care what you say missus, it certainly got the audience engaged.
However I didn’t think one part of my introduction would – when Duncan asked me if I could make an announcement that a room keycard for the nearby Crown Hotel had been found at the pre-event drinks reception.
Holding up the keycard I hastily suggested that we were thinking of putting it into the charity auction and I indeed, was considering bidding for it.
When a big bloke approached me with the words: “Yes, it’s mine,” I handed it over with a weak smile as the audience hooted.
IF Theresa May is considering taking any dancing lessons following her disappointing display of moves on her recent trip to Africa, may I suggest she consults Jacqui Hall, managing director of CNG.
She burned up the dance floor at the Row4Victory dinner and must be a contender for the Boogie Boss Awards – if there are any.
Now there’s a thought…
ON a recent trip to see clients in London my colleague Liz Theakston and I sat down on an LNER train and in the seats opposite were Gary Mcleod and Elaine Holmes, joint managing directors of successful Yorkshire travel company Traveleads.
We exchanged warm greetings and chatted about business, the economy and mutual contacts.
Just as the train was pulling into King’s Cross Station, Gary proffered me a fiver, and said: “Hope you enjoy your holiday, that’s for the mankini selfie shot.”
That was the prospect I dangled to readers in my last blog before my holiday in Greece.
I have to say I was tempted to take the fiver.
And the selfie.
If you can rid yourself of such imagery…have a great weekend.
By David Parkin
Director of Copa http://www.copasummit.com/
Here we will be keeping you up to date of our preparations, training and progress towards competing in the Atlantic Challenge in 2018.