Honingham rower plans 60-mile birthday marathon

It sends an inspiring message to older people that anything is achievable whatever your age.

Norfolk estate owner Anthony Meynell is planning to mark his 60th birthday later this month by rowing a mile for every year of his life.

The 60-mile marathon in a single scull will start from the Yare Boat Club on Thorpe Island, near Norwich, and take him down the Yare to Reedham and on to Beccles via the new cut and river Waveney.

After a break at Beccles Rowing Club, he will return to be accompanied by a flotilla of club members over the last few miles.

Mr Meynell, of Berry Hall, Honingham, near Dereham, who has been rowing for 47 years since his days at Eton College, will be accompanied all the way by his friend Robert Conway, 53, from Norwich Rowing Club.

To ensure the tides are helpful, they will be tackling the marathon on July 20, three days before his birthday. Mr Meynell, who is no stranger to long-distance marathons, having rowed the 250 miles of the non-tidal river Thames over five days in 1997, said: 'We will be setting off at 5am to get the tide down to Reedham and to avoid cruisers and the heat of the day.'

He believes it is the first time anyone has attempted the course and is being sponsored for the charity FarmAfrica, which provides support and training to African farmers.

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He said: 'It's a charity very close to my heart and I am a former trustee; I have visited some of their projects and worked in Botswana as a VSO volunteer for two years. I am hoping to raise at least �2,500.'

Mr Meynell, who is well known as a Christmas tree grower, said age was no bar to taking up rowing.

He said: 'We have had people come along to our club in their 40s and 50s who have never rowed before.

'You certainly slow down as you get older, but mentally you get stronger so you can do these marathons.

'Rowing has competitive classes up to the age of 79 at the moment and I hope they will increase the age when I get there.' Mr Meynell will be supported by his wife Debbie, who will meet him in the car at Reedham and Beccles for refreshment stops.

Anyone wishing to support him is asked to visit his Just Giving site at www.virginmoneygiving.com/AnthonyMeynell

For further information on the charity and how it helps African farmers grow more food, visit www.farmafrica.org.uk

COMMENT – Page 26

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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