Support Team Atlantic Body & Soul in their endeavour to undertake the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

Cal MacAninch has been a familiar face on British television for thirty years, with shows ranging from Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge to, more recently, Time, Vigil and Trigger Point. Having spent a lifetime pretending to do things, he is now taking up the challenge to row the Atlantic (that’s right, no stuntmen). It’s all getting a bit ‘real’. In saying that, he has run the Ben Nevis race, 3 marathons and has climbed the Old Man of Hoy, but this is by far his greatest challenge. What’s the worst that could happen?!

And who better to face this challenge with than four friends and comrades from the same coastal rowing club. Men he’s come to know and trust over the last five years. All of them experienced, talented, resilient and committed crewmates: Sean’s building his own house; Matt’s a joiner (and already built a house); Ed’s a site manager (and spent two years restoring a house); and Alec is an impact investor (and once put a shed together!). Along with Cal, they all live in Portobello, Edinburgh.

They all train with and compete for Eastern Amateur Coastal Rowing Club, (Eastern) – a club with membership spanning teenagers to folk in their 70s. Eastern is all about support, development, a learning ethos, collective responsibility, and trust in each other – balancing competitive team sport with adventure! Values which will definitely be brought to the challenge of crossing the Atlantic ocean.

The team have chosen to support two charities delivering much needed mental health support: 

Body & Soul: a frontline charity that provides practical and therapeutic support for people of all ages who have experienced grave trauma in childhood; and

The Junction: a safe, friendly, confidential centre offering services and support for young people in Edinburgh aged 12-21. 

Click ABS brochure to see our story, aspirations and words of encouragement from supporters such as Vicki McClure, Jed Mercurio, Liz McColgan, Andy Kirkpatrick and Ann Mitchell.  

With so many people’s mental health battered by the raging storm of this pandemic, and so much wider attention on discord and difference, it’s fitting that these charities exist to build connection and find common ground. Building resilience and a sense of togetherness are going to be the very qualities that the crew will need on their voyage.

Never give up.

3,000 miles across the Atlantic, rowing unsupported for over 40 days through mighty storms and four-storey waves, dodging marlin strikes, experiencing the majesty of nature in the raw.

In December 2022, one of approximately 40 teams participating in the biannual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, from La Gomera, just off the coast of Africa, to Antigua in the Caribbean.

A world record attempt for a team of five rowers.

 Our young people are suffering and the system to support them is broken

  • Over 50,000 UK 17-year-olds have attempted suicide, the rate of psychological distress in young people is increasing
  • The vast majority of young people who die by suicide never seek help before they die
  • More and more, young lives are being blighted by isolation, frustrated expectations, disrupted education, employment and relationships
  • A broken system, is too busy firefighting symptoms to focus on the root causes of poor mental health
  • Our young people are often locked up, or wait many months for support, just at the very moment they need kindness, education, hope immediately
  • If you face discrimination and marginalisation already, then the picture is even bleaker
  • We will be living with the impact of COVID for years to come

The truly brave ones are those struggling to overcome childhood trauma.

By taking on this challenge to cross the Atlantic we plan to let them know they are loved.

For them, we will never give up.

Please sponsor us now. 

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