Hertfordshire Chief Constable shows his support for officers who prepare to take on dangerous Pacific Ocean challenge
Two officers from Hertfordshire Police are taking on the Ocean Row and World Record Attempt in May
Chief Constable Charlie Hall got on board to show his support for two Hertfordshire officers who are rowing across the Pacific Ocean for charity.
PC Darren Clawson and PC Arron Worbey are taking on the challenging feat of rowing almost 3,000 miles from Monterey, California to Honolulu in Hawaii, with two other crew mates, in May.
They will be raising money for charities close to their hearts including Saint Elizabeth’s Centre in Much Hadham, which cares for more than 200 vulnerable children and adults with severe learning disabilities and complex medical needs.
The specially built 28ft rowing boat, which proudly displays Hertfordshire Constabulary’s crest, is now ready for the high seas and despite the constraints of lockdown, Darren and Arron have been working hard to ensure they’re fit and ready for the challenge.
They are hoping to break the current world record time of 39 days 12 hours and 20 minutes to complete the crossing and, if successful, they will also be the oldest crew to do it as they’re all aged in their 40s.
Darren said: “This challenge has particular importance to me because my son Hadley attends Saint Elizabeth’s Centre.
"He receives excellent specialist care from the staff there and also schooling that he would never have access to elsewhere.”
Hadley, who is 14-years-old, was left severely disabled after suffering a series of life-threatening seizures when he was just a toddler. Since then Darren, with the support of Arron and others, has been a keen fundraiser.
Like many other charities, the pandemic has had a massive impact on St Elizabeth’s fundraising capacity, so every penny raised will make a big difference.
The rowers, who have a fundraising target of £100,000, will also donate to the Marine Conservation Society and will be raising awareness around the issue of ocean plastics during their crossing.
Their trip will see them row in two-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for almost two months. They will navigate shark infested waters, face 50ft waves and possibly even hurricanes.
Arron said: “Our journey has its own unique challenges as we’ll be fighting for every metre, pushing ourselves to the limit, because the current and winds will be trying to push us in the opposite direction for a significant amount of the voyage.
"At the start of our journey we’ll need to cross extremely busy shipping lanes and then we face the prospect of hurricanes developing on route!
“We know that we’re likely to capsize during our journey so how to recover from this emergency situation has been a key part of our training.
"If something goes wrong we’re completely alone and any help could be days away so it will be down to us to fix it.
“We’ll survive by eating rehydrated food cooked on a small gas stove using sea water that has been transformed into drinking water and things like dried fruits and sweets which will keep us going when we need a quick energy hit.
“With the support of Transglobal and their logistics partners the boat is currently making its way from Southampton docks to Port Hueneme in California.
"We are grateful to all our corporate sponsors, our colleagues across the three forces (Herts, Beds and Cambs) and our family and friends who are supporting us and these worthwhile causes."
Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “I was in complete awe when I learnt of the challenge Darren and Arron are attempting, it is most certainly not for the faint hearted.
"Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, they have remained dedicated to ensuring their fundraiser goes ahead, keeping on top of their fitness regime and training as well as ensuring everything is ready for the launch date.
"This has all been planned whilst continuing to work as operational police officers at a time when policing is seeing unprecedented demand and fulfilling their own personal commitments at home.
“The challenge comes at a time when many charities are struggling and the money and awareness Darren, Arron and their two other crew members raise will, I’m sure, be very welcomed by Saint Elizabeth’s and the Marine Conservation Society.
“During what has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people it is uplifting to see two Hertfordshire officers giving back and I wish them the best of luck on their travels.”
Darren and Arron also recently met with the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Henry Holland-Hibbert, who has pledged his support to the fundraiser.
The High Sheriff said: “This is an adventure of true grit and determination, to row 2,700 miles across the Pacific Ocean.
"When I met Darren and Arron I could see that they are up for the challenge but the boat is small for four large men and they have all their food and equipment with them.
“I have no doubt they will achieve their aim and hopefully beat the record too and all this sweat and toil for charity – especially St Elizabeth’s based here in Hertfordshire. As High Sheriff I have close associations with the voluntary sector and I have great admiration for all those who stretch their boundaries to raise money for charities.
"This is a truly epic challenge and I send the whole crew my very best wishes for success.”
The officers have already raised over £16,000 on their fundraising page.