A FORMER Leamington dentist is preparing for the challenge of a lifetime.
Roy Dixon, who ran his own dental practice in Augusta Place after retiring from the Army, will be among four ex-military personnel looking to row some 3,000 miles across the Atlantic next year.
After two years of intensive training and preparation, the intrepid crew plan to set off from La Gomera on December 10 with the aim of reaching Antigua around seven weeks later.
The Warwick School old boy said: “It’s going to be a tough challenge – more people have been into space and climbed Everest than have rowed across the Atlantic.
“It’s a real test when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation – two hours on, two hours off for between 45 and 55 days – which is why the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the world’s toughest row.
“We could be facing 50-foot waves, as well as storms and adverse winds. We expect to be capsized on the trip – last year one boat was capsized 20 times.
“Other hazards include shipping – we are small and difficult to see, as well as containers that have fallen off ships. Marine life is both a joy and a threat – on the one hand we will see whales and dolphins, but a boat has been impaled by a swordfish in the past and others have been damaged by whales. Sharks can also be problem when you have to get into the sea to clean the boat.
“We are all four of the same age and served for 20 years or more in the Army – which is why we’re doing this to raise money for the Royal British Legion and the 353 charity – named after Stratford paratrooper Conrad Lewis who was the 353rd soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, aged 24.
“We will also be raising money for cancer charity Myeloma UK, as one of our lads has it.”
Roy, a past chairman of rugby at Old Leamingtonians RFC who still plays rugby in his mid-50s, is also looking to inspire others to
take on their own challenges.
“We want to give something back and inspire others to achieve the seemingly impossible.
“We are touring schools with a very simple message – No matter what the circumstances, dare to dream, step beyond the constraints you believe hold you back and you can achieve amazing things.”
The operational costs will be around £100,000, which the crew is raising through events and sponsorship. The Warwickshire Golf and Country Club has already pledged financial support.
Roy, who also worked in Harley Street and was once voted Dentist of the Year, spent 20 years in the Royal Army Dental Corps where he undertook operational tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and in 2003, as commanding officer, he deployed his field hospital to the Gulf.