Robin is 45 and lives in Leicester with his wife Nicola and son Rory. He is a Technical Instructor at De Montfort University, Leicester.
Robin was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in June 2015 just before his 44th birthday. He is still in full time employment.
Rowing the Indian Ocean is so different to the lifestyle that Robin leads. He is not an adventurer or explorer but he feels that an experience like this provides a unique opportunity to show others that life doesn’t have to stop with a diagnosis, whatever the diagnosis.
Throughout this challenge, Robin is very keen to show exactly how Parkinson’s affects him, the good and the bad and he hopes that the information his body provides before, during and after the voyage will help researchers at Oxford Brooks to help others with Parkinson’s and similar disabilities.
Through raising awareness Robin hopes to show a positive image for people living with Parkinson’s disease, and especially to those struggling to come to terms with a recent diagnosis.
Billy is 44 and divides his time between living on the South Coast and North Oxfordshire with his partner Louise, Son Andy,Stepson Kieran and Stepdaughter AJ.
When he was 17 he managed to get a working passage on a 3 masted topsail schooner from Australia to England, and spent 18 months sailing the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. This experience proved to be a turning point in his life, and for the next 10 years he travelled extensively, including delivering yachts throughout the Western Mediterranean.
Due to the loss of both parents at a fairly young age, his outlook on life was very much to grab it with both hands, and to try and experience whatever opportunities presented themselves. This led to a chaotic lifestyle with little direction, until he finally settled down, becoming a Firefighter at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue service in 2007.
In 2014 Billy took part in the Great Pacific Race as part of team Battleborn. Alongside Barry Hayes, he rowed 2,800 miles from California to Hawaii and the 4 man crew came 2nd, taking two world records in the process. Upon his return, he returned to work as a Firefighter, this time with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, became a founder member of the charity Spotlight YOPD, took on a consultancy role for the world record setting first row over the Black Sea, completed an overland trip from the UK to Asia with Barry and completed the “Lakes in a Day” Ultra marathon. The Ultra marathon only confirmed that he is really pretty crap at running, especially up hills, and has served as a inspirational event to get him back on the water……
James ‘Plummers’ Plumley is 27 and from the island of Guernsey. During his youth James was involved in Scouting and attended the World Jamboree, opening his eyes to how large and varied the world is. At school he began rowing, a sport which has influenced his entire life. Over the years he has competed in six World Coastal Rowing Championships with his best friend. While at Plymouth University he set off on a series of expeditions with his uni mates, canoeing, cycling and hiking around Europe. It was this summer freedom that left him unable to live within the constraints of the 9-5 world.
After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering he rapidly realised that a career in engineering wasn’t the same as playing with Lego all day. It was time for a big adventure… In 2013 James and three friends set off from London to row around the UK as part of the GB Row race. It took them 26 days and 9 hours to see the whole of the UK coastline and in the process managed to set a new World Record.
Since then James has tried to say yes to every opportunity that has followed. A little idea in 2014 turned into a 2000 mile cycle across Europe to Serbia wearing a suit to raise awareness of the flooding in the Balkans. It was a great success and culminated in an unlikely talk at the Serbian Embassy in London.
James currently runs an online virtual reality business while planning adventures and drinking large amounts of tea in cafes around Europe.
Barry is 35 and lives in North Wales with his fiancé Emma and stepson Jack. Whilst filling his youth with adventure, including summiting Kilimanjaro at 16, in later years he found himself unwillingly going down the path most travelled – getting a 9-5, getting a mortgage, settling down.
Unhappy and discontent with the comforts of his first world life, and spurred on by his father’s near demise, Barry became hyper aware of the opportunities around him and soon found himself training for the world’s first human powered race across the Pacific Ocean as part of a crew of four that included Billy Taylor.
The crew spent 18 months working and training for a race that saw most entrants fail to make it across the ocean. Barry’s team did make it across though, in fact they beat the pre-existing world record by 19 days and they took home two world records.
Barry returned to the UK a different person.
“…the row changed my outlook on life, I realised that I had gained enormous psychological strength. I realised I could do anything I put my mind to. I realised that everyone had the ability to do these things.”
Upon returning from the Pacific Row, Barry became a motivational speaker and is completing his first book. In his downtime he has completed marathons and ultra-marathons, Antarctic training, and most recently completed an overland trip from the UK to Asia with Billy .