Bristol woman Gemma Best, together with two friends, has completed a three thousand mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean and raised over thirty thousand pounds for children’s charity Action Medical Research.

Team Raring to Row, made up Gemma, Kevin and Adam, set out on their journey from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12th December 2022 and have completed the crossing in 44 days, 11 hours and 39 minutes. Their boat, Lady Jayne, was the 22nd boat in the fleet of forty three to reach their destination in Antigua, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – known as the world’s toughest row.

The team battled extreme conditions and pushed their physical boundaries to the limit – celebrating Christmas and New Year away from the family and loved ones, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Teammate Gemma Best completed the Atlantic crossing in 2020 and has become the first UK female to race the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge twice. The team took part in this challenge to raise awareness and funds for a cause very close to Gemma’s heart – funding medical research to help children affected by rare disease.

When Gemma was thirteen years old, she tragically lost two younger sisters to a rare neurodegenerative disorder called PEHO (Progressive encephalopathy with Edema, Hypsarrhythmia and Optic atrophy).

“At the time, only five children in the UK had this PEHO syndrome diagnosis, including my sisters Jade and Jordan. My family were very lucky to have had not only the great nursing staff, but also fantastic consultants who were willing to research the condition. Without the help of charities such as Action Medical Research this would not be possible. Jade and Jordan had very short lives full of love and care. If we can help other families in similar situations, the difficulties and hardships of crossing the ocean will be worthwhile,” says Gemma.

Sarah Moss, Director of Communications at Action Medical Research says: “Everyone at Action is so grateful to team Raring to Row for completing this unimaginable challenge and raising vital funds to help children and families affected by rare diseases. The charity is striving to develop treatments and cures to tackle rare diseases that devastate children’s lives. Medical research provides hope that no family will have to go through the heartbreak of losing a child to a rare disease.”

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the premier event in ocean racing and is recognised as the world's toughest row, covering more than three thousand miles between the start in the Canary Islands and the end point in Nelsons Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda.

Action Medical Research is a UK-wide children’s charity which funds desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children. It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.

The charity is now driving forward children’s research into conditions including epilepsy, prematurity, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.

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