“I was going to do something incredible”

Miles Emmanuel worked For Jimmy and took part in the Lewisham Community Ambassadors Channel Row 2015

I never imagined that one day I’d be rowing across the English Channel. So in July, trying to keep my energy levels up, I rowed with a Mars Bar in one hand and oar in the other as part of The Lewisham Police Community Ambassadors (LPA) Channel Row.

The LPA row started back in April, at the AHOY watersports charity based in Deptford, London. I’d met the LPA at a Lewisham Council Young Mayor’s meeting when they spoke about working to build relationships in the community. They mentioned a row they were planning across the English Channel. I thought it was a great idea, so I signed up to represent For Jimmy.

Team LPA included police officers Inspector Michael ‘Mick’ Chattenton; Sergeant Brian Sherlock; Sergeant Jon Biddle; PC Marvyn Snelgrove and PC Rebecca Jabbar. The young adults were Mhmadou Gumaneh from LeSoCo; Luvumbu from Millwall Charitable and myself For Jimmy.

A common misconception is that the key to a successful rower is to be a “big powerful burly man”, but here’s the real secret: it’s to apply “the three T’s: Technique, Timing and Teamwork”. We learnt this very quickly on our first day of training when we were landed smack bang in the middle of The River Thames.

By the time July hit we were excited heading down to Dover. I was going to do something incredible and nothing could stop me. Mother nature, unfortunately had other ideas. Not even a mile outside the harbour – torrential rain, thunder and lightening hit, so we quickly headed back to the safety of land. My crewmates tried to stay upbeat, but there was no hiding our collective disappointment over the rescheduling of the trip. We were just lucky that we were only a mile out on the water and not 30.

“After eight hours of rowing, more than 23 miles covered, four months of training and countless hours of planning, promoting and fundraising… we did it. We did it for ourselves. We did it for Lewisham. We did it For Jimmy.”

Fast forward to 31st of July and we were back waking up at 4.30am to a surprisingly sunny Dover. We had planned to finish within five to six hours, but we had forgotten that the English Channel is busy with ferries, container ships and tankers. So a lot of our time was spent bobbing and weaving in and out of these.

This not only racked up the millage, but also meant we were rowing against the tide. Finally, we managed to make it into French territory and glided round the halfway point of Collbart Nord Buoy. With the tide back on our side and with a school of jellyfish cheering us on, we were speeding back across the Channel now.

Tensions were high, energy burned and chocolate bars eaten, but we rowed into Dover harbour and made it to the sunny seaside shore. After eight hours of rowing, more than 23 miles covered, four months of training and countless hours of planning, promoting and fundraising… we did it. We did it for ourselves. We did it for Lewisham. We did it For Jimmy.

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