Sparrows manager set to row into record books

Source: press release, 19 March 2019

Peter Rhodes, one of Sparrows Group managers in Aberdeen, aims to raise GBP 50,000 for charity
Peter Rhodes, one of Sparrows Group managers in Aberdeen, aims to raise GBP 50,000 for charity (photo: Sparrows Group)

Sparrows Group is supporting one of its Aberdeen managers who is hoping to raise GBP 50,000 for charity by becoming the first person to complete a solo row across the Atlantic, from Canada to Scotland, in a boat he is building himself.

The global provider of specialist equipment and integrated engineering services will be principal sponsors of rope access manager Peter Rhodes’ gruelling 2,000 nautical mile row which he is undertaking to raise funds for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital after its staff played a major role in saving his new-born son’s life last year.

On hearing about his Row North Atlantic plans, Sparrows CEO Stewart Mitchell made the decision for the company to get on board. The firm’s support has allowed Rhodes to begin building the six-metre long fibreglass vessel in his family garage in Alford, Aberdeenshire (Scotland). Once at the final stages, he plans to complete the build at Sparrows facility before taking it out for sea trails.

Rhodes’s son Cedar, who turned one this month, was just 9 days old when he fell ill and had to receive life-saving care to stabilise his condition in Aberdeen before being flown to Glasgow for emergency heart surgery.

The experience has inspired Rhodes to raise money through the Grampian Health Board Endowment Fund, which will be used to provide additional amenities for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital’s patients and staff, as well as research and equipment.

Rhodes moved to Aberdeen 5 years ago with his family and has worked as a rope access manager at Sparrows for the past 3 years.

His trans-Atlantic journey is currently scheduled to start in May 2020 and is expected to take around 50 days. It will begin at St John’s in Canada and see him rowing solo to Oban on the West coast of Scotland.

Rhodes comments, “I’m extremely grateful for the support from my family and Sparrows. Helping with fundraising is the least we can do to repay the team at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital for saving Cedar’s life. The sponsorship from Sparrows has allowed me to start working on the construction of the boat. I hope to have it ready for sea trials by the end of the year before travelling to Canada in May 2020 to start my adventure.”

“I’ve completed several solo climbs in California and Patagonia, and as a rope access manager at Sparrows, safety is second nature to me. I wanted to do something bold; more people have summited Mount Everest than rowed the Atlantic, so this challenge provides that opportunity. Aiming to be the first person to complete the journey in Scotland has made me even more determined. Tackling potential icebergs, storms, wind and waves will bring their own challenges, however the fundraising target and knowing my family will be waiting for me to celebrate in Oban will help to keep me focused and motivated,” Rhodes adds.

Sparrows Group CEO Stewart Mitchell says, “Peter is a truly inspiring individual who has set himself an incredible challenge to raise money for Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and we are proud as a business to support his endeavours as principal sponsor. It’s particularly impressive that Peter has taken on the task of building the boat himself. It provides him with a complex engineering challenge to overcome but it minimises his costs meaning more money goes directly the charity.”

“We have every faith in his ability, positive mind-set and steely determination that he can complete this record-breaking row. We wish him all the best with finishing the boat build and his trans-Atlantic crossing,” continues Mitchell.

Hugh Bishop, clinical director of child health for NHS Grampian, says, “We are humbled and amazed and pretty awe-struck by what Pete is planning to do for this hospital. Everyone that raises money for this hospital whether it is GBP 5 or 100,000 is amazing and are doing something within their capacity for the children we have the privilege to care for. It’s fair to say not many people are doing something of this magnitude and have the abilities, both physically and mentally, to do such a project – we’ve not seen something quite like this being done before. There’s quite a bit of serendipity here and the money that Pete is raising is coming at a very fortunate time for the children’s hospital.”

Once Peter has completed the row, the boat and all other equipment will be sold to raise further funds for the charity.

For further information on becoming a gold, silver or oar sponsor of Peter’s Row North Atlantic expedition, visit https://rownorthatlantic.com/sponsorship. Personal donations can be made here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rna