Coldplay frontman Chris Martin has backed an Exmouth woman’s record-breaking charity challenge to row the Atlantic.
Married Claire Allinson, 45, from Morton Crescent, cried tears of joy when she spotted Coldplay’s social media posts highlighting the ‘amazing’ Oarsome Foursome’s 3,000-mile ocean adventure, tackling the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, in aid of Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, Cornwall Blood Bikes, and Carefree Space.
Chris Martin told fans how he learned of the Oarsome Foursome team through his dad, Anthony Martin.
Writing to fans on social media, Chris Martin told Coldplay fans: “My dad told me about some ladies from where I’m from doing something amazing www.oarsomefoursome.co.uk
“Everywhere I look I see people being brilliant.”
Claire, a non-rower taking up the six-week row challenge to raise funds for Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, said: “I was casually flicking through Facebook and I saw it.
“I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited; I was just crying my eyes out.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t believe it.”
The star’s support came after Claire spotted the Coldplay singer’s dad, Anthony, at Powderham Castle at a garden event, where the Oarsome Foursome’s boat was on display.
She said: “I was speaking to him for ages when I twigged, the gentleman I was talking to was Chris Martin’s dad.”
Going back to look for the star’s dad, Claire found him talking to a woman about his clematis.
“I said ‘can I ask you a question, are you Chris Martin’s dad?’ He said ‘how on earth did you work that out?’
Plucking up the courage to ask for the band’s help, Claire told Chris’s dad about the Oarsome Foursome’s Atlantic crossing and the women’s personal reasons behind the choice of charities to support.
Claire said tears were shed as Chris’s dad listened intently.
She took Anthony to see the boat and in turn he took the Oarsome Foursome’s details and vowed to help if he could.
“There was so much emotion. He’s a lovely man,” she said. “We talked for about half an hour. I was telling Antony the whole story, why I am doing the row and why we have chosen the charities; they have been specially chosen by the four rowers.”
Claire picked Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare as her charity as a nod to her dad, George Blagbrough, who died in August 2018 from bowel cancer aged 71, nine months short of his golden wedding anniversary.
Claire’s family cared for George at home with the help of hospice nurses local to his home near Leeds.
She is rowing as a tribute to her dad and to those who cared for him and her family, raising awareness and funds for Exmouth and Lympstone Hopsicare who help similar families in need.
“it doesn’t matter which hospiscare you help, you are still supporting other families,” said Claire.
“Having lived that nightmare, I can say in all honesty it’s worth every blister. If we can help anybody, it’s worth every ounce of effort.
“Unlike big charities, Exmouth and Lymsptone Hospiscare have to struggle every month to raise funds.”
Alongside Claire tackling the 142-day, 3,000-mile, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – billed as the world’s toughest row – is Bird Watts, from Mevagissey, her mum, Mo O’Brien, who is deaf, from Penzance, and Linda Whittaker from Gorran Haven.
Non-rower Claire was persuaded to join the team by family friend, Bird.
Upon crossing the finish line, the four women will become world record breakers several times over; the oldest all-female team of four to ever have rowed the Atlantic Ocean; the oldest all-female team of four to have ever rowed an ocean.
Claire said: “I still pinch myself when I say things like that. It’s still ‘wow!’.”
Bird and Mo will hold the world record for the oldest mother and daughter team.
The women are waiting for conformation to learn if Mo will become the first deaf rower to cross the Atlantic.
The Oarsome Foursome set off from San Sebastian in La Gomera, the Canary Islands, on December 12 and will row more than 3,000 miles to Antigua, if all goes to plan, arriving at Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, on January 23, 2020 – what would have been Claire’s dad’s birthday.
The women will spend Christmas on the boat, and plan to take 20 minutes out of their row to sing carols.
Their ration-pack hydrated food does not stretch to a turkey dinner, so they face eating a festive turkey curry instead.
They have agreed no contact with loved ones back at home during the challenge to focus solely on the race.
Before they leave, they must complete mandatory hours on the water – 124 daylight hours and 24 hours rowing in darkness.
Alongside training, the women are ‘relentlessly’ fundraising to raise £100,000 be able to compete.
With 13 weeks to go before they set off, they still have to find around £50,000.
Throughout the challenge, the team of four will work on two-hour on, two-hour off basis, continuously rowing in pairs.
After the Atlantic row challenge, the team will sell their boat and all the kit, sharing the funds between Exmouth and Lympstone Hospiscare, Cornwall Blood Bikes and Carefree Space.
Claire, who was a non-rower and persuaded by Bird to take part, said: “We are so excited, we could pop. We keep saying ‘are you worried yet?’.
“We haven’t had time to think about what it is we are doing, just the adventure that’s about to occur.”
Claire said she will be ‘elated’ if they cross the finish line on her dad’s birthday.
“My challenge is, I have never rowed; I quickly joined Exmouth Rowing Club because I had never picked up an oar before,” said Claire.
“We took ownership of the boat in April. We are on her as often as we can, which is difficult because I live in Exmouth, Bird in Mevagissey, Linda, Goren Haven and Mo, Penzance. We meet as often as we can; we are out Friday to Monday.
“We will row in pairs, two hours on, two hours off, twenty-four hours a day. Your body adjusts to it by the ninth day. I don’t even know if I am going to be seasick.”