Although it will only be the 4 crew rowing the Indian Ocean, there are probably a lot more people involved behind the scenes than you realise. Pulling the oars is conceivably the easiest part of the challenge, and the most difficult part is most definitely getting to the start line with everything that you need to make sure of a safe and speedy crossing.

This page is dedicated to those people who are helping Indian Ocean 17 become a success who may otherwise go unnoticed, and we will add to the page as the team grows. From reserve rowers, to raising finance, putting the challenge out there in the media, gathering equipment and favours, sorting logistics, keeping us connected to the world outside, guiding us through weather systems and everything inbetween……

Because life is unpredictable, we think that it is wise to have spares of everything, and that includes crew! In case one of us has to pull out for whatever reason, we have a young lady who will be standing by in Australia, ready and waiting to climb on board and rescue us if it all goes wrong. Meet Alex Mason…..

 Alex is 34 and from Salisbury. She loves the mountains and as well as playing around in the UK she has climbed Kilimanjaro, trekked to Everest Base Camp and scaled Mera Peak in the Himalayas which stands at 6,476m.

In 2015 Alex took a sabbatical from her job as a Graphic Designer and walked the length of America – from Mexico to Canada – via the Pacific Crest Trail. 153 days, 2,650 miles and the equivalent of ascending and descending Everest 16 times.

Alex went back to work and lasted 3 months before deciding the 9-5 wasn’t for her and quit her job to pursue a full time adventurous life. Starting in July 2016 she returned to the Pacific Crest Trail, this time  to hike from Canada to Mexico, becoming one of only a dozen people who have hiked the trail in both directions. The trail was a warm up for the next hike, the Te Araroa in New Zealand.

When Alex has finished she will have hiked over 7,000 miles. Although she doesn’t have any ocean rowing experience, in fact she has no rowing experience at all, she has the determination to succeed, the mental strength to endure and the passion for new challenges. We know her legs work, and we might just get to see if her arms work too…

We also have a rower based in the Uk in case we lose somebody before we even get out of the country. We met Rob Lucas when he responded to an advert saying that we were looking for crew, and he really impressed us. As well as being a reserve crew member, Rob will also be helping out with blogs of his own, practical support in the UK and help with social media. Meet Rob…..

Rob is 27 and, although he calls York his home, spends most of his time on the road in some way or another.

Life was fairly conventional, and he followed the not-uncommon route of leaving school and heading to University. A couple of months after graduation, aged 22, Rob found himself waving goodbye to his family and friends outside York Minster, as he and his childhood friend Tom set off to cycle around the world.

It would not be until Christmas Eve, a year and 4 months later that he would ride his bike back into York. The journey had crossed three continents, traversed 35 countries and changed Rob’s perspective on the world. Not only did he have a new found confidence in his own personal ability, but after receiving months of generosity and kindness from strangers, he found confidence in the good of others.

Struggling with the concept of having a travel free job he began working as a cycle tour guide through the summer, to then pick up various work in the winter, preferably somewhere new and interesting.

Leaving a job in the Middle East in February 2016, Rob decided to fly to Southern Turkey with another friend and start another long bike ride home. Rather than satisfy his wanderlust,  the trip just reminded Rob how much he loves an adventure, and focused he thoughts on finding the next opportunity to challenge himself.

None of the #IOR17 crew have ever been to Perth, and there are a myriad of problems that will have to be overcome when we pick up the boat from shipping. We are extremely lucky to have been introduced to these 3 guys, all of whom have have Ocean rowing experience (One of them even builds Ocean Rowing boats). Their enthusiasm to help, even though they have never met us before, is awe inspiring. Please meet The Australian Connection…

George Simpson

George is a director in Deloitte’s Technology, Strategy and Architecture consulting practice in Perth, Western Australia. He is married to Tanya and has two young girls, Anniée and Emily. George has been involved in Ocean Rowing to some degree since 2003 when he began preparations for the Woodvale race, going on to row the Atlantic in 2005 in a fours boat taking a little over 49 days. He stayed involved in the sport as the first Chairman of the Association of Ocean Rowers. Since then he’s been only too keen to convince people to take their lives in to their hands, having convinced colleagues, friends and even a bloke he met briefly in California to enter the sport.

One of the aims of the row is to inspire others with YOPD to find their own challenge, and by having Robin on board, showing by example that a life full of fun and adventure does not have to end with a diagnosis. To do this, we have to make sure that the Parkinson’s community are aware of what we are doing. There’s no point in Robin being a hero if there is nobody watching!

To make sure that his endeavours do not go unnoticed , we have the help of others with YOPD. Using social media, they are spreading the story throughout the PD community.

Tracey and Justin Bird


Tracey was Diagnosed with YOPD in August 2013 at the age of 41. In February 2015, she started up her own monthly social meetup group for people with PD, and they became the first Spotlight YOPD group towards the end of 2016. Many people with a PD diagnosis have found huge comfort through the group, and she is an all round lovely lady! Tracey and her husband Justin are helping #IOR17 by communicating the challenge to others with YOPD through social media. You can read Traceys’ blog about what it was like to receive her diagnosis at Traceys’ Blog

To Get to the start line takes finance. A lot of finance. We anticipate that the challenge will cost somewhere in the region of £75,000. It is a daunting figure, but we are confident that we will be able to raise this amount through corporate sponsorship. It will also mean that at the end of the row, we will be able to give the boat and media system to Spotlight YOPD, so that they can be used in future fundraising events. To aid us with this, we are enlisting the help of people who already have a background in the field of corporate fundraising.



Lorna Fox has worked in the environment sector for 20 years, leading on education and engagement projects internationally and in the UK, developing and managing specific regions and fostering networks and relations with the wider world in relation to conservation. She is constantly outdoors and seeking new challenges, having sailed since she was a teenager, led the trek and environment section on expedition in Borneo, climbed the Dolomites, trekked in Nepal, become a PADI Assistant Dive Instructor and signed up for her first triathlon. She is very excited to be supporting this expedition and lending her development, networking and fundraising skills to the Indian Ocean Row.

We are going to be a very long way away from physical support for 90% of the time that we are rowing, and one of the situations that could cause our  challenge to come to an untimely end is physical injury. To this end, we have enlisted the support of medical healthcare professionals who will be on call 24/7. Should we need immediate medical advice, it will only be a phone call away….. 

My name is Anne-Marie Faulkner and I qualified as a doctor from the Royal London Hospital in 1997. I completed all of my post-graduation training in Essex and Kent and then joined General Practice Partnership 13 years ago in Newbury. It has been a busy few years and we have just merged two surgeries together to form Strawberry Hill Medical Centre which open in 2016 and we provide primary healthcare services to 22,000 patients.

Although I do not expect my services to be called on very often, there may well be advise required on minor ailments such as bruising or sprains, as well as the potential for a more major problem such as a fracture. All of the crew have some basic first aid training and I would hope that most things, barring medical emergencies, could be managed without the need for medical evacuation.

My name is Liz Hillman and I have been a Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist at the university hospitals of Leicester for 5 years and prior to this I worked at Kettering general hospital as a neurology specialist nurse but my interest in neurology and PD started as a student nurse and my first job after qualifying was on the neurology ward.  I find PD fascinating and try my best to make the lives of my patients and their families easier.

Robin attends our newly formed young onset Parkinson’s group.


I am incredibly proud of Robin and wish him success in his venture.