Our Lionheart Programme provides opportunities to discover the natural beauty and wildlife around our Great British coastline, and appreciate the positive effect that on-the-water adventures have on our well-being.
It is an initiative created by our founder, Charlie Pitcher. Charlie is passionate about the UK’s coastline and through the Lionheart Programme, aims to raise awareness of:
1) the natural beauty on our doorstep and it's rich heritage;
2) the abundant wildlife in our waters and on our shores;
3) the mental and physical health benefits that outdoor activities on or around the coastline have on our well-being;
4) the organisations, clubs and institutions who work tirelessly to keep our coasts safe, clean and available for recreational purposes.
Our second big Roxy expedition, the Lionheart Great British Row, got underway on Sunday 13th June 2021 in almost perfect rowing conditions. Spirits on board were extremely high as they left on the first of 6 legs over 6 weeks:
• Leg 1 – ENGLISH CHANNEL (Essex to Cornwall)
• Leg 2 – CELTIC & IRISH SEAS (Cornwall to Northern Ireland)
• Leg 3 – WEST COAST OF SCOTLAND (Northern Ireland to Skye)
• Leg 4 – OVER THE TOP (Skye to Fraserburgh)
• Leg 5 – NORTH SEA (Fraserburgh to County Durham)
• Leg 6 – EAST COAST (County Durham to Essex)
4 members of the crew, Sophie, Arya, Mark & Ali, will be on Roxy for the full duration of the row. 26 other rowers will join them for different legs of this challenging voyage. Some of the rowers are raising funds for their chosen charities, some are keen to push themselves to the limit, but it’s safe to say all the rowers are hugely excited about participating in this very special coastal adventure.
On Friday 4th June 2021, we gave eight young people from Youth Links in Southend an unforgettable half term treat with a day out on board our 53 foot Hanse support yacht, “Jack”. Highlights of the trip included seeing seals basking on the mud banks of the River Roach, spotting Levi’s grandad’s fishing boat on its mooring in Paglesham, seeing where the remains of Charles Darwin's ship HMS Beagle lies, and having a turn at helming “Jack”.
Sailing on a yacht is something that these children would never usually have the opportunity to do and so to be able to offer them this experience and see how well they responded was a truly joyful thing to be involved in. A large percentage of our young people have a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism, usually accompanied by a high level of anxiety, and to see how calm being on the water made them, how well they communicated with each other, and also how accepting they all were of a new experience that may have usually been worrying, was wonderful.
Youth Links (part of Trust Links) is a peer support group for young people aged 11-18 which offers a programme of therapeutic, creative and social activities designed to enhance and improve mental wellbeing. It is all about giving young people a place to go where you can feel free to express yourself and learn about mental health.
We were proud to support Duncan Roy and Gus Barton in their Lionheart Round Britain Row during the lockdown summer of 2020. Their Pacific Ocean row was postponed due to the pandemic so with just 2 weeks’ notice, the guys worked tirelessly to pull together their campaign so that their hard work, training and preparing did not go to waste.
They set off on June 14th and had the pairs’ record of 41 days in their minds to beat, and had 45 days available to them. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and they ended up spending 10 days in total stuck on anchor making no progress. On July 29th Gus and Duncan had to make the difficult decision to finish their amazing effort as they simply ran out of time. Gus was due to be best man at his brother’s wedding and he wouldn’t miss it for anything.
The pair chose to raise money for two brilliant causes - NHS Charities Together and Sport in Mind – and raised in excess of £11,000 from their 1,279 nautical mile row in 44 days 18 hours and 2 minutes. We were so proud to call them our Lionheart Round Britain Row 2020 ambassadors.
Our inaugural Lionheart event took place in 2017 when a mixed Rannoch Adventure team rowed around the coast of Britain in an R45 called Lionheart. Covering 1,800 miles, the row was completed in 8 stages 8 weeks, between 3rd June and 29th July.
• Leg 1 – Burnham on Crouch to Cowes
• Leg 2 – Cowes to Padstow
• Leg 3 – Padstow to Dublin
• Leg 4 – Dublin to Oban
• Leg 5 – Oban to Loch Inver
• Leg 6 – Loch Inver to Fraserburgh
• Leg 7 – Fraserburgh to Scarborough
• Leg 8 – Scarborough to Burnham on Crouch
The crew comprised Lesley (who rowed the entire coastline), Laura, Steve, Graham, Angus and Charlie. The row raised over £4,000 for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) - the charity that saves lives at sea and whose lifesaving service is provided wherever possible by volunteers, generously supported by voluntary donations and legacies.
This was an epic first "Lionheart" voyage and the one that set the cornerstone for our Lionheart Programme.