Naomi Riches and The Great Thames Row

On Saturday 17th September 2016, Naomi Riches (Paralympic Gold Medalist) start her latest challenge - to set a new Guinness World Record as the fastest woman to row down the River Thames in a single scull: 165 miles from Lechlade to Gravesend

'More than anything else in my life I wanted to be known as Naomi Riches and not be defined by my disability.......

My purpose for this row was not only to raise funds for a charity close to my heart but to celebrate ability.'

Naomi is an incredibly inspiring person and her enthusiasm is infectious. Not only has she achieved the ultimate accolades in her chosen sport of rowing - an Olympic Gold Medal and six World Championships - but as a motivational speaker she inspires hundreds of young (and not so young) people to achieve the most they possibly can in their lives.

'It's all about what you can do. Not what you can't do'

In the company of such distinguished athletes as Sir Steve Redgrave, Cath Bishop, Lawrence Delaglio and many others from all walks of life, Rotary in the Thames Valley District was delighted and humbled to be supporting Naomi in her #165Challenge, which aimed to raise £165,000 for IN-Vision, a registered charity dedicated to further research into Infantile Nystagmus which affects 1 in 1,000 children.

Now an associate member of the newly formed Rotary Club of Marlow Bridge, Naomi has been an staunch supporter of many of our Rotary District Youth projects and Interact clubs. So now it was our turn to say 'thank you' and do everything we could to help her achieve her goals. Besides raising funds there was much we could  do in the way of hands-on help both before and during the event.  For District 1090 #our165Challenge was to find 165 Schools to participate in raising funds and awareness.

Other ways we became involved were #Finding Corporate Sponsors, #Sponsoring a Mile, #Naming the Boat, #Organising fund-raising events, #Volunteering to operate the 45 locks on the River and generally cheering her on her way

Naomi completed the row in 47 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds, becoming the first woman to row the navigable length of The Thames. Watch her arrive at Gravesend Pier

Her Guinness world record was later confirmed. Congratulations Naomi!

We have yet to achieve the highly ambitious target of raising £165,000 for In-Vision, but you can still donate on the Great Thames Row website