Inspirational Light Dragoons celebrate success in Atlantic Challenge rowing race
An inspirational crew of soldiers, including a former Light Dragoon who suffered life-changing injuries in Afghanistan, have arrived in Antigua after a gruelling 3,000-mile rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Row2Recovery team finished second in the fours class – and third overall – after completing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 48 days, nine hours and 13 minutes.
The successful foursome included L/Cpl Cayle Royce, who lost both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in May 2012 while serving with the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley, near Dereham.
And the team was skippered by Capt James Kayll, also a Light Dragoon, and a veteran of long-distance rowing adventures having already raced across the Indian Ocean in 2011.
The race is renowned for its tough conditions, with rowers alternating two hours on the oars with two hours of rest, enduring 40ft waves and sleep deprivation as well as the physical and psychological stresses of a prolonged period at sea.
Exhausted but elated, the army team were greeted by their friends, family and military colleagues after their adventure, which is raising money for forces charity Help for Heroes.
Capt Kayll, 31, said: “The navy would probably be better suited than we are to deal with these adversities, but there are a lot of common themes, such as teamwork, maintenance of morale, and realising your aims and sticking to them – little bits and pieces from the army, which the army is really good at.
“We wanted to raise awareness for injured servicemen and their families. For example, if an injured servicemen is in Headley Court going through rehabilitation, as Cayle and Scott have done, and they see on the news that a group of injured servicemen doing incredible things they will think: ‘I can still go and do these things’. That is inspiring to them, and that is what we wanted to achieve.
L/Cpl Royce, 27, who now lives in Dartmouth in Devon, lost both legs above the knee when he was wounded in action, and he also needed several fingers on his left hand amputated and suffered neck trauma and facial scarring.
After completing the trans-Atlantic challenge, he said: “It was quite an epic adventure, and it was an amazing experience. There were a few low points, but we were always pushing to keep each other motivated throughout.”
The crew was completed by Cpl Scott Blaney, also an amputee, and Capt Mark Jenkins.
On the approach to Antigua, the team received a message of support from General Peter Wall, chief of the general staff and head of the army, who said: “This is the most stunning example of courage, grit and determination that the army has seen for a long time.”
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