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Liverpool fundraiser to row solo across Atlantic to support young people’s mental health

Liverpool fundraiser to row solo across Atlantic to support young people’s mental health

by Culture Liverpool

Bernie Hollywood OBE, Liverpool-born serial fundraiser and adventurer, is to undertake a solo row across the Atlantic Ocean, it has today been announced, in support of Samaritans’ vital work in tackling the mental health issues faced specifically by young people.

The ‘Boat of Hope’ campaign is being backed by ParentPay Group, Europe’s leading provider of cashless payment and parental engagement systems for schools, and aims to raise a total of £1 million jointly supporting the mental health charity Samaritans and Love Rowing, the British Rowing Charitable Foundation.

Well-known in the Merseyside area and beyond for his intrepid charity projects, Bernie’s latest expedition, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, will see the 63-year-old embark on a 60-to-90-day solo voyage across the Atlantic in 2022, in a Rannoch Adventure R10 Solo Ocean Rowing Boat measuring just 6m by 1.5m.

The Boat of Hope campaign is devised as a collaborative fundraising effort, with various parties lending their expertise and support pro bono. In addition to the contribution from ParentPay, artist Justin Eagleton, will be designing a mural comprising a series of images that encapsulate the spirit of the campaign, and that will be transposed onto the exterior of Bernie’s boat. The design will also incorporate entries from a national competition where young people will be invited to submit representations of what they believe ‘hope’ looks like.

In addition, children’s author Natalie Reeves Billing will be creating a bespoke picture book inspired by Bernie’s incredible journey on his boat, whilst musician and composer Ben Hughes will be composing a unique theme tune for the Boat of Hope.

Although Bernie will set sail in December 2022, the Boat of Hope campaign will be kicking off this autumn, with the launch of the newly built boat at an exclusive event in London. Bernie will then head to his home city of Liverpool where the boat will be officially named and the campaign to raise awareness of, and much needed funds for young people’s mental health issues will begin in earnest.

In the summer of 2022, Bernie will then embark on a UK tour of schools with his ‘Boat of Hope’ –  including 4 in the Merseyside area – to help drum up support and momentum in advance of his maiden voyage.

Commenting on the fundraising challenge, local boy Bernie said:

“Though I’ve always been someone who enjoys pushing my body to its physical limits, what motivates me to persevere when the going gets tough is knowing that my efforts are aiding others. Rowing the Atlantic Ocean solo has always been an ambition of mine since the first time I sailed with my late father, so being able to fulfil this personal goal while supporting charities whose causes are so close to my heart really is a dream come true.”

ParentPay Director, Clint Wilson, added:

“The unsettling events of the last year have only served to underscore how vital it is to nurture your mental health – something that’s just as important for young people as it is for adults. As an organisation whose core mission is rooted in supporting families, we are delighted to be able to play a part in this inspiring challenge, the funds raised from which we know will make such a huge difference to the lives of many young people in the UK.”

Love Rowing Chair and Olympian Cath Bishop commented:

“We are delighted to have been chosen as a beneficiary of the Boat of Hope campaign. The funds raised will enable us to deliver life changing, inclusive rowing programmes across the UK. Bernie is an inspiration and we share his commitment to supporting the positive mental health of young people”.

Samaritans CEO, Julie Bentley said:

“We are delighted that Bernie has chosen to support the vital work of Samaritans with his fantastic and hugely ambitious rowing challenge. There are many parallels with Bernie’s challenge and what young people have endured throughout the pandemic – his resilience will be tested, there may be struggles in adversity and he will need to overcome the challenges of loneliness and isolation.

Samaritans believes in hope and recovery and Bernie’s challenge and his boat encapsulates this. We wish him all the best in achieving his goal.”

Plans are also underway to create a documentary film detailing Bernie’s gruelling two-year physical and mental endurance training programme.

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