Paul Weatherill, a member of Watton and District Rotary Club in Thetford, Norfolk, recently headed across to the West Midlands to row the River Avon in an effort to raise money for Shelterbox, an international disaster relief charity and partners with Rotary Great Britain and Ireland.
The 68-year-old set off from Stratford-Upon-Avon Boat Club in his homemade boat ‘Shelterboat 2’ for a 43-mile adventure that finished in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
Paul previously took on a similar challenge back in 2021 where he raised £2,500 for Shelterbox. Aiming to match 2021’s donation, Paul smashed his goal by raising nearly £3,500 via his JustGiving, which is still open for donations.
Paul’s good friend David Foster helped with the logistics of the challenge and Paul was supported by several Rotary clubs along the route including the Rotary clubs of Stratford-upon-Avon, Alcester & Bidford, Evesham, Pershore, Tewkesbury and Rotary in the Vale.
Paul said: “I grew up near the Norfolk Broads and that’s where my love for boats began. I came up with the idea for my challenge because of my love of the water and wanted a way to capture the attention of people and raise funds for charity.
“I have always been a supporter of ShelterBox because of the work that the charity does to help so many people.”
Founded by Cornish Rotarians back in 2000, Shelterbox began sending green boxes of aid – known as ShelterBoxes – to places all over the world.
The charity is currently helping people affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria whilst also supporting people displaced by extreme weather events like the monsoon flooding in Pakistan and the worst drought to hit East Africa in 40 years.
Rotary Engagement Officer for ShelterBox, Fiona Turner, said: “It’s supporters like Paul who help fund ShelterBox responses around the world – helping people who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict.
“Our aid makes a tangible difference to the lives of so many when they’ve been left with so little. Simple items that give them that first step-up to get back on their feet.”