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A Charity Row with a Difference

Traversing the Thames in a homemade boat for MND Scotland.

Posted : 12/11/2021

From December 13th – 16th, Glenn Tonner, (33), a former officer in the Merchant Navy, will row an astonishing eighty-three miles down the River Thames in a homemade, foldable boat to raise money for MND Scotland. 

Originally started as a way to stay busy during lockdown, the now British registered vessel is built almost entirely from salvaged and reclaimed materials, including wood from a local restaurant renovation, an old seat gifted by Goring Gap Rowing Club and even a pair of oars crafted from a neighbour's old chopping board.

But more than just a way of staying occupied, Glenn, found relief from the stresses of the world around him by spending time on the river and began thinking of ways that his lockdown project could be used to improve the lives of others. 

Glenn, who sadly lost his Mum to motor neurone disease (MND) in 2012, began building the boat, aptly named ‘Lockdown’, while living in North London and to bring his journey full circle, will row from his now home in Goring, back to where it all began. 

Speaking about the unique challenge, Glenn said: “In total I will row 83 miles from Goring, over four days, hoping to arrive on the afternoon of the fourth day and moor up alongside the HQS Wellington near Embankment. 

“HQS Wellington is the headquarters of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, one of the old livery societies in London for Master Mariners, which was the professional qualification I reached when in the Merchant Navy. It seemed a fitting way to draw many aspects of my life together.” 

Not only will Glenn spend the entirety of the four days rowing but, in the evening, he will also sleep on the boat, with much-needed refreshments in the form of fish suppers being provided by his supportive wife, Fiona.  

“I've done a smaller 'dummy run' by rowing 21 miles to Shiplake, navigating the locks for the first time and sleeping my first night on the boat. It's not the Hilton but with a makeshift canopy and a decent sleeping bag, it was a learning experience but surprisingly ok!” 

The money raised by Glenn’s challenge will help to provide life-changing services and fund vital research. 

On his personal connection to MND Scotland, Glenn said: “I’m raising funds for MND Scotland because it’s a cause very close to my heart and they do genuinely life-changing work. In 2012 I lost my mother to Motor Neurone Disease (MND), when she was only 52. She was diagnosed in 2010. 

I grew up in the Shetland Islands and MND Scotland is the leading charity in Scotland providing care and support to people affected by MND, as well as funding vital research into finding a cure.”  

Iain McWhirter, Head of Fundraising at MND Scotland, said: “I am always inspired and impressed by the creative challenges people take on to raise money for MND Scotland and want to say a huge thank you and good luck to Glenn for taking on this unique and testing feat. It's only because of people like Glenn that we're able to continue providing essential support to everyone affected by MND, and power the research that's taking us a step closer to a cure”. 

Show your support for Glenn on his voyage by visiting his Just Giving page here.

Find more ways to help us in our fight against MND here.

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“I am always inspired and impressed by the creative challenges people take on to raise money for MND Scotland and want to say a huge thank you and good luck to Glenn for taking on this unique and testing feat. It's only because of people like Glenn that we're able to continue providing essential support to everyone affected by MND, and power the research that's taking us a step closer to a cure”

Iain McWhirter

Iain McWhirter