Father’s world-record row for sick children

Neal with staff Caitlin Sutterby and Hayley Edwards and his mother Janet. Picture: Derek Martin
Neal with staff Caitlin Sutterby and Hayley Edwards and his mother Janet. Picture: Derek Martin

How long do you spend on the rowing machine at a time? Ten minutes? 20? Half an hour?

What about 83 hours? No, that’s not a misprint.

I was getting confusions, the shape of the area I was in kept getting larger and smaller

Neal Marsh

Neal Marsh has done just that, rowing almost non-stop for three days and 11 hours to raise money for Love Your Hospital, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust’s fundraising arm.

But Littlehampton-native Neal, 48, is no stranger to marathon rowing challenges.

Neal, part of Worthing rowing club, said: “We did an Atlantic crossing attempt that did not go quite to plan.

“A year after we came back I wanted to put something back into the community.”

Keen to raise some money for good causes, Neal set the record for contiuous rowing with an incredible 80 hours.

But that was not the end of the story, Neal said: “Having said I would never do it again I saw that a young German guy had broken my record.

“I decided to have a go and push the record a bit further.”

Neal said his training had to be harsh to prepare him. He even anticipated having hallucinations as a result of severe sleep deprivation.

Starting on Monday, April 10, Neal began his world record attempt.

Set up in the foyer of the Penguin Ward at Worthing Hospital, he rowed for five days, with only a brief ten-minute break each hour.

The money raised is intended to pay for a respirator for Bluefin children’s ward at Worthing Hospital.

“When my daughter was born she had to go into special baby care – that brings a lot of things home for me.”

Amanda Tucker, head of Love Your Hospital, said: “Neal’s dedication to this indoor rowing world record is incredible.

“He’s an inspiration and we’re incredibly grateful that he’s chosen to support us again in aid of our children’s ward.”

Speaking after completing his marathon challenge, Neal said: “It was really difficult, really hard.

“I struggled the first two nights. I had points where I could have given up.”

Commenting on the hallucinations from sleep deprivation he had expected, Neal said: “It was really strange this time. I was getting confusions, the shape of the area I was in kept getting larger and smaller.”

However he was able to pull through and set a new world record of 83 hours.

He said: “My support group enabled me to carry it on.

“The thing that really got to me was the staff and the patients and families who always had a smile.

“That really made a difference to me.”

Members of the public can donate by visiting Neal’s JustGiving page.