Row For Freedom

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The first female crew of 5
to row the Atlantic!

December 2011 - The Woodvale Challenge
This is our response to one of the world’s fastest growing crimes: The buying and selling of human beings

  • Human Trafficking is one of the largest global organised crimes today, generating £20 BILLION per year…more than Nike, Google and Starbucks COMBINED!
  • Today there remain more slaves than ever before - an estimated 27 million people. Half of these are children.
  • More people now than ever before are using betting sites online. Find top odds & markets on the greatest sports without having to leave your home.


Row For Freedom – A Year On Awards and All

December 7th, 2012 by

It’s been a year since the 5 women of Row For Freedom left on their epic adventure to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. They were following the route rowed by thousands of slaves awaiting a life of servitude. These 5 women who came from varied backgrounds were united for one cause. To help raise awareness and prevent the horrendous crime of modern day slavery – Human Trafficking.

The team left on the 7th December 2011 and arrived 45 days later into Barbados achieving 2 world records, gaining national media recognition and political attention.

A year later the team are still going strong in the fight against human trafficking and are committed to raise awarness and take action against this terrible crime. Here are some little snippets.

Julia Immonen founded SPORT for FREEDOM a charity which unites through the positive power of community and sport to bring freedom from human trafficking and modern day slavery. Voted 12th out of Zest Magazine’s Top 20 most Inspirational Women in Sport Julia travels around the world championing Sport for Freedom and inspiring others to action. She was given the honour of being an Olympic Torchbearer for London 2012. Julia is an inspirational, motivational speaker who has spoken at events held by GlaxoSmithKline, The Boodles, Mastercard, Alpha, Tour de France Fan Park and at the Council of Europe to name but a few. Post row, Julia became a published author and recently completed their charity’s Cycle for Freedom challenge.

Debbie Beadle at the Cassava Bingo Sites awards. She continues to work for Row For Freedom charity ECPAT UK. She has also been talking internationally about Row For Freedom and how to prevent human trafficking. Debbie has also continued training proffessionals and supporting young victims of trafficking. Her work was recently recognised at the Children and Young People Now Awards where the ECPAT UK Youth group won the award from 400 applicants. Debbie is also looking on to her next challenge.

Kate Richardson of Just Bingo Sites, has continued to raise awarness and engage communites in the fight against human trafficking in Northern Ireland. She has delivered talks and continued to be recognised in the media. Kate is often seen running, jumping and climbing to inspire others. Kate was just awarded Inspiratioanl Women of the Year!

Katie Pattison- Hart flew straight back to Dubai and set up the 27 Million Campaign. She continues to inspire people in the UAE and the world to get out of bed and onto their feet, jumping, pulling, pushing, rowing to raise awareness about human trafficking. She  continues to speak to the media and decision makers about this issue and was nominated for UAE Women of the Year!

Helen, after suffering a horrendous operation following the row has bounced back talking on an international level about Row For Freedom. She continues to inspire school children and be a guest host on her local radio station. Helen is continuing to run, climb and row for freedom. Last week Helen travelled to Germany to talk about Row For Freedom and her next adventures.

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Row For Freedom Atlantic Crossing

September 20th, 2012 by

Check out our Atlantic crossing footage and finale video! We hope you enjoy seeing our experience first hand!

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RFF Team Member Katie nominated for Emirates Women of The Year Awards!

September 5th, 2012 by


Katie is nominated for the Emirates Women of The Year Award for Row For Freedom and continued afforts in Dubai to raise awareness about human trafficking through the 27 million campaign. We are so proud of her! Go Katie!

After spending nearly 10 years in the corporate world, Katie decided to focus her energy on other projects. While coaching gymnastics, Katie met a woman who was planning to row the Atlantic to raise awareness about human trafficking and Katie felt compelled to join the five woman crew for the gruelling challenge. The women completed the row, from the Canary Islands to Barbados, in 45 days, becoming the first and fastest women to row the ocean. “I was the only UAE crew member so it is my responsibility to spread the word in the region. There are 27 million reasons for me to be working on this project and each of those is a human life,” she says. Thanks to Katie’s continuing efforts the UAE government has set up the Combat Human Trafficking Committee and RowForFreedom. UAE’s Burn Room gym have also teamed up for community campaign called 27million.

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Debbie Beadle at St James Palace

August 1st, 2012 by

Row For Freedom skipper, Debbie Beadle was invited to St James Palace to present the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards to young people from the South East.  Debbie joined fellow adventurers, celebrities and sports personalities to inspire young people receiving the awards to continue chasing their dreams and challenging themselves. The Earl of Wessex was there to congratulate the young people and meet the guests.  Debbie Said ‘it was such an honour to be asked to the palace. It is not open to the public, so I felt very privilaged. Meeting the young people and hearing their stories was so amazing. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards is such a fantastic charity, doing such great work. I was so happy to be supporting them. I tried to inspire Prince Edward to row the Atlantic, but he wasn’t that keen!’

Debbie with the Earl of Wessex

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Katie pushing, running, rowing, jumping 27 million for human trafficking

July 10th, 2012 by

 Katie Pattison-Hart is leading the way in Dubai, motivating people to run, skip, push, pull, hop…. for freedom. Along with Katie is leading ongoing challenges with the aim to reach 27 million sporting achievements to raise awareness of the 27 million people in slavery. The latest achievement was 400 meters x 400 meter relay race which took 10.5 hours. Follow Katie @pattisonhart or @theburnroom for more information.

Well done Katie you are keeping up the fight!

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Julia Immonen carries the Olympic Torch

July 10th, 2012 by

   Julia was awarded the great honour of carrying the Olympic Torch on 13th June through Edinburgh. We are so proud of you Jules! She said

‘I am so proud and honoured to be nominated for this special moment. I work in and have a love for sport, so it means so much to me. It was such an amazing day and I met so many inspiring people doing such wonderful thinsg for their community and causes.’

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Row For Freedom in the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla – Blog by Kate Richardson

June 15th, 2012 by

“Once Debbie our skipper heard about it, she entered our team in and we waited to hear back, applicants had to make a qualifying argument as to why they should be selected. When we heard back that our application was successful we were delighted.

 It was an emotional moment seeing the guardian again! We had all forgotten how small she was. She was driven up from devon to london just for the jubilee celebrations and being on the water again brought back a lot of memories!

Guy Bell Photography

 The Thames was flat compared to the rough swells of the atlantic and we moved very slowly compared to the light swift wooden boats we were among. The guardian was specifically designed for being battered in rough seas….not a paddle down the thames.

We rowed 10miles to the start line. Ill have to admit, trying to keep up with the lighter vessels left me a bit puffed! We then had 10 minutes to eat a quick sandwich and then off we went! It was a sea of every type of boat u could imagine, rowing boats, viking boats, sailing boats, barges, the lot! All together on display! The crowds cheered for whole length of the 7 mile course, we were blown away at how many people were there supporting in the miserable weather. Hanging out of windows, on roof tops,  anywhere with a view!

 I loved being reunited with the girls again, and greatly missed pure athlete Helen! It wasn’t the same without her. Being in the guardian again was definitely a highlight!”

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Row For Freedom collect their Guiness World Record at Taliska Whisky Atlantic Challenge Awards

April 13th, 2012 by

The Row For Freedom Team were reunited last night with the other 16 crews who rowed across the Atlantic in December 2011 at the Taliska Whisky Atlantic Challenge Awards on Tower Bridge.  Row For Freedom received their Guinness Book of Record for their Two World Records being the first female five and the fastest females across the Atlantic. 

They also received an unique award from Taliska Whisky which was carved out of casks which held Taliska Distilled in 1976.

 It was such a lovely night; the venue was beautiful, looking out over Tower Bridge and the river. We feel so honoured to be part of this very special rowing community. It gave us time again to come together and reflect on what an amazing accomplishment we have achieved’ Debbie, Row For Freedom.

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Row For Freedom join Queens Diamond Jubilee

April 10th, 2012 by

 The Row For Freedom team are honoured to be participating in the Queens Jubilee Flotilla on June 3rd. They will be rowing down the Thames in their boat ‘The Gurdian sponsored by Manpowergroup’

Come and say hello.

Guy Bell Photography

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It’s time to claim your Bet365 bonus code – Support our Gold Red Button

March 22nd, 2012 by

Bonus codes are something which sports betting sites use to entice customers to their websites by offering lucrative deals that you can get your hands on for free or for a small deposit. These codes are simple to use and can end up turning next to nothing into a huge sum of money if you’re fortunate enough. Bet365 are one of if not the biggest online sportsbook that exists as of right now and it’s only fitting that they have some of the better bonus codes up for grabs for potential and existing players to take advantage of.

Using a Bet365 bonus code is easier than you could imagine, and all players need to do is reveal the code and then when you sign up and register a new account, enter the code when prompted to. Once your account is created and you’ve met the terms and conditions, the bonus funds will be available in your account, ready to wager on a massive array of sport markets.

The maximum amount you can receive from a Bet365 bonus code is a sizeable £100, which is easily one of the bigger ones out there and is worth snapping up. What’s more enticing about this code is that you can make a minimum deposit of £5, so if you’re not sure about dropping the full £100, you can always deposit £5 and have a reasonable £10 of cash to play around with on the sport markets.

It’s important to be aware of T&C’s when it comes to claiming the Bet365 bonus codes. There are wagering requirements which specify that you must make bets on markets where the odds are 1.20 or higher. You’ll also have 90 days to use all your welcome bonus before the funds are forfeited and removed from your accounts.

Bet365 has a completely mobile optimised site, which means that you can enjoy all your favourite betting markets from your phone or tablet. What’s more is that you can even enter the Bet365 bonus code through your mobile or the mobile app they provide. Mobile betting compliments in-play betting perfectly, which means you can bet on the most cutting-edge sporting moments with just a press of a button. Bet365 also have a cash out function which gives you full control over your bets. If you’re unsure as to whether your bet will pull through, you’ll be able to make an educated guess and cash out to receive a calculated sum of money depending on how your wager is looking.

Whenever you sign up to a gambling site, always make sure you play responsibly. You should never bet more than you can afford to lose and if you do think that gambling is becoming a problem, you should seek help immediately.

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HELLO! to Heroines Of The High Seas

February 18th, 2012 by

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features ‘Heroines Of The High Seas’ in this week’s edition!

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Photos of the Arrival!

January 22nd, 2012 by


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just had these pictures in of the girls’ arrival in Port St Charles, Barbados.

Photo-credit: Brian Finke.

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They’ve Done It!

January 22nd, 2012 by

The 5-Woman Row For Freedom ocean rowing crew have just completed their crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and smashed two World Records:

“The Fastest Crossing of The Atlantic Ocean by an All-Female Team”

“The First 5-woman Team to Row Any Ocean”

During the middle of the night, the 5-woman Row For Freedom team stormed into the record books as they rowed their ocean-battered boat into the shining lights of Port St Charles Marina. It was the first time they had seen land since leaving The Canary Islands 45 days 15 hours and 26 minutes, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean 2613 miles away.


When They Saw Barbados!

January 22nd, 2012 by

This is the last voicemail the girls left us from the Ocean – it’s when they saw Barbados!  Listen to how excited they were here.

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Debbie talks about the Good Times

January 21st, 2012 by

New voicemail from Debbie.  Great message.  Listen here!

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Kate Tells Us About The Prizes

January 21st, 2012 by

Voicemail from Kate – listen here


Message From Helen!

January 21st, 2012 by

With just hours to go, Helen left this voicemail!

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Kate Speaks To Good Morning Ulster

January 20th, 2012 by

Kate was interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster today.  You can listen to the interview here.

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Look Great And Still Donate!

January 18th, 2012 by

Heaven’s Attic hand-make beautiful jewellery, and this month they are donating 12% of all their sales to Row For Freedom. So you can help a great cause and look glamorous all at the same time! Visit their homepage here to peruse their stunning collection.

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Voice Blog from Kate

January 18th, 2012 by

Kate talks about the stifling heat and difficulty sleeping, and how she’s looking forward to ice cream, despite being lactose intolerant!  Listen in here.

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Text For Freedom!

January 18th, 2012 by

The Row For Freedom Crew are rowing the Atlantic to raise awareness of Human Trafficking, and to raise funds for The A21 Campaign and ECPAT UK.

With only 4 days left until the girls make landfall, there’s not been a better time to make a donation and help them reach their target. As Julia said, “The best support you can give us is by donating to these worthy causes.”

There is now a text donation system to make it even easier to donate up to £10. Just follow the instructions below to get involved and help the girls towards their goal of ending human trafficking.

Text to: 70070
Then type: ROWF77 (that’s ROW then F then 77, all one word…)
Then the amount you wish to donate: £10 (the max donation here is £10, but text as many times as you like to give more!)

Texts will cost your donation, plus your normal network text messaging rate.

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Great Voice Blog From Debbie

January 17th, 2012 by

We’ve just had a fantastic voice blog from skipper Debbie Beadle, updating us on what they’re eating, bartering habits on the boat and….. Their arrival in Barbados!  This is essential listening, so click here to find out more.

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Katie Says Hello

January 16th, 2012 by

Katie has left a voiceblog with an update of what they’ve seen and how they’re feeling, plus a big hello and thank you to all her friends, family and supporters. Listen to it here.


More Peanut Butter Antics!

January 13th, 2012 by

Helen Leigh continues with her peanut-butter related updates, revealing that she and Kate Richardson managed to get through an entire kilo between themselves in 24 hours – that’s 5000 calories! Listen

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to the voiceblog here.


It’s hot! Voice blog from Debbie Beadle

January 13th, 2012 by

Debbie Beadle talks about the hot weather, ice dreams and competitive rowing in her latest voice blog from “The Guardian.”  Listen to her message here.

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Message from Helen Leigh

January 10th, 2012 by

The latest voice blog from Helen Leigh is in.

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Hear about peaches, biceps and peanut butter by following the link here!


Message for Lynsey Agnew from Kate

January 9th, 2012 by

Kate Richardson leaves a message for her friend Lynsey Agnew, who heads off to a new job in LA, and a hello to Judith Craig and Ashley Valentine.  Amazing that these girls remember all this and can think of others when they’re going through so much themselves!


Dolphins, Talc and William Hague! Voice blog from Julia

January 9th, 2012 by

Julia regales us with updates from “The Guardian” – dolphins, talc parties and inspiring audiobooks by William Hague.  Listen to her voiceblog here.

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Happy Birthday to Kate’s Mum!

January 6th, 2012 by

Kate Richardson left this heart-warming voicemail for her mum, Marina, as she celebrate’s her birthday back home today!  As you can tell, the girls are in great spirits!


929 Miles To Go

January 5th, 2012 by

The Row for Freedom team have just passed the 1000 mile mark and have only 929 miles to go. The team are averaging a solid 52.7 miles per day since their departure exactly 29 days ago. The all-female trans-Atlantic rowing team, Row For Freedom are on course for a World Record attempt for being the fastest all-female 5 person crew to row the Atlantic Ocean.

The team need to arrive into Port St. Charles by 09.00 on January 24th to beat the current World Record, and at this rate HQ has calculated that they will arive sometime on the 20th or 21st of January, but all this can change.

The Atlantic Ocean is an unforgiving environment, and recent reports of the Row2Recovery crew show exactly how circumstances can change in an instant. Similarly to the well publicised team of wounded soldiers, the Row for Freedom team suffered a major desalinator malfunction some 10 days ago. They are now using their back-up hand-pump desalinator, but if that breaks, then they too will need a fresh water re-supply from the support yacht and their world record for being the ‘fastest unsupported all female crew’ to row across the Atlantic

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Ocean will be in jeopardy.

The girl have never been in better spirits, and you can hear this yourselves in the voiceblogs HQ has received today.

To hear Katie’s update on the long night’s and catching up with the other crew’s via radio click here.

To hear Julia’s message on poetry, drying her clothes on her head and the anticipation for Barbados click here.


Strange Noises in the Night

January 4th, 2012 by

Those of you who have ever been aboard a boat will know of the incredible noises a vessel can make at sea – and The Guardian is no exception.  The cabin door creaks, the rowing seat screeches and that’s not all!  Katie’s interesting and exciting insight into life onboard gives you all a little taste of what goes ‘bump in the night’ aboard the Row for Freedom’s Guardian. Listen here.

Julia comments: “Since we left the Spanish port of San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands we have covered just under 2000 miles towards Port St Charles in Barbados, we have often thought of how the slaves in the 1800′s felt – as this was the same route that they took.  I feel proud to be rowing the same route to raise funds to help release those in modern day slavery and prostitution, and I know we all take our strength from that”.

The route itself is no stranger to the plight for freedom; in the 1800s the same route was used to transport slaves between the UK and the USA.


The girls on BBC Radio4 Saturday

January 3rd, 2012 by

The Row For Freedom girls received a call from BBC Radio4 to talk about their adventure into the blue of the Atlantic Ocean.

Listen to the 7 minute interview from the broadcast here

You can also subscribe to the BBC Radio4 Saturday Live podcast from their website:

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Happy New Year Message from Row For Freedom

December 31st, 2011 by

Debbie and Katie have left a message wishing all the Row For Freedom supporters a Happy New Year!

Listen to Debbie

Listen to Katie


Julia & Helen Report in

December 30th, 2011 by

Julia and Helen take a moment in the cabin to chat about passing halfway, chasing 5th position and New Years Eve.

Listen here for Part 1 and Part 2


Helen on BBC

December 29th, 2011 by

Helen spoke to BBC Radio Lancashire on Christmas Day about the team’s progress and rowing naked.

Listen to the Audio here

(please note the file is slightly truncated)


Debbie & Katie report from the atlantic

December 28th, 2011 by

Listen to the recent voice blogs from Debbie and Katie about missing Christmas dinners, warm weather and ridiculous night waves!

Listen to Katie

Listen to Debbie

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Merry Christmas from Helen

December 25th, 2011 by

Helen from the Row For Freedom team sends her well wishes to all in a Christmas voiceblog from the Atlantic Ocean.

(Unfortunately the beginning of the message was cut off)

Listen Here

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Christmas Eve in the Atlantic Ocean

December 24th, 2011 by

A new voiceblog from Helen and the Team.

Merry Christmas all!

Listen Here

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Julia’s Voiceblog on Day Fifteen

December 22nd, 2011 by

Listen to Julia’s voiceblog here

Listen to Julia’s latest voiceblog when she describes the problems the team have been experiencing with their ‘Water Maker’.


Debbie’s First Blog

December 21st, 2011 by

** Please note, this blog was written on board  ’The Guardian’, so it might contain a few errors here and there!**

‘Holy, broken boat!’

It’s day 13 and we have not yet had a day when something has not broken.

On day one, Katie’s foot- plate broke. We all had terrible sea- sickness. Helen was on deck fixing the plate as well as being sick over the side, whilst Debbie was passing parts from inside cabin and also being sick in a bucket, quite an image!

Day Two our auto helm broke, which was very scary as because there were high seas and we had no control. We managed to fix it only to have it break another two times, the last time for good.

Kate says,

‘Me Julia and Debs were on shift late one night when the auto helm stopped working. Me and Debbie jumped to action and actually managed to replace the auto helm, I can’t believe that I managed to do that whilst it was dark and we were getting crashed by waves! The fact that we pulled ourselves together and acted calmly reinforced what an amazing bunch of women I am surrounded by. So many things went wrong in the first few days and I think I was in a state of shock. Nothing can prepare you for an adventure like this, we are not even half way and already we all have clung on to how important the simplest things in our daily lives mean to us. It is bizarre how you can have such highs and lows in one hour. Emotions are ten fold out here.’

Foot steering

We had resigned to idea that we would have no auto helm and we would have too foot steer, but we were not ready for this to break. Things were always happening late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

The carbon fiber which attached the foot steering to the footplate of middle rower, snapped off. Once again Debs and Helen had to get their fixing hats on. We had no spare parts for this so had to envision something out of what we had. Helen and Debs are getting quite creative now with their mending skills.


Water in our hatches has been a nightmare. Much of our food has been ruined and we may have to start to ration our food already at this early stage. Most of our hatches have leaks including the one with the electrical equipment! This means that our boat is a lot heavier as we are carrying a lot of water across with us. This has also meant that the boat leans to the left so we have to row with more weight on our left arm. We will all have one arm bigger than the other when we get to Barbados.


Our batteries are not charging well. It also hasn’t helped that we have not had much sun, we have been running very low so much so that we have had to ration water for two days.

Helen says

‘ I knew that ocean rowing meant that some things break and that it was going to be a challenge, but it seems like everything is breaking and it has just been frustrating, we are going for a record attempt and we have had to stop to fix things so many times. We can’t maximize our rowing because one person has to steer all the time. ‘

Through all the drama!!…There has been quite a few hilarious and touching moments. To make the boat more “our own”, we have given certain objects names.

For instance, our beloved Windex has been given the name ‘Peter’ (randomly) and we now talk about him like a person – one of us.

The auto helm was called old Bertie…he did not last very long…R.I.P Bertie.

At times we find ourselves laughing hysterically at the situation we have got ourselves into. ‘GIRLS WHAT ARE WE DOING !!??’ is repeated quite a lot.

Emotions are ten-fold. Someone jumps for joy the whole day when they have a mars bar in their snack pack…. Someone cries with the taste of a hot brew on a night shift at 5:00am, cold wet and tired.

Katie – “I have just been riding 30ft waves with Helen and its most amazing adrenaline rush…this is what its all about”. Through all the hard times then to be able to ride those amazing waves makes it all worth it. Hitting speeds of 12 knots is our new target to beat! It is like being on a White -Knuckle ride that you cant get off.  Doing life on a constant roller coaster! I am going to start surfing when I get back. (Helen says she wants a husband and kids!! any takers?!)

All the girls agree that when the sun does show itself and the waves are big and bold – we are all happy!! All the stresses of the day are put to one side. It is when we surf these waves at high speeds that we understand the envy of a previous ocean rower – a secret ocean rowing club who all share an excitement and love for the roaring seas that are out there and how beautiful they can be.

As I type  – Deb’s is standing at the top of the bow, looking out the sea – airing her bare bum, screaming out ‘WEEE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!’ She has had quite a tough time with her derriere – going through a lot of discomfort very early on….

Julia says:

‘This adventure is one of incredible highs and lows, there is no greater feeling like being on top of a massive wave feeling you are on top of the world, however I find the long cold, wet nights really hard, sleeping in full on wet weather gear is quite the experience.’ every time I think it is bad, I know that it is nothing compared to what those suffering in slavery endure and that is what keeps us going.


Helen, Kate and Debs are sharing a cabin. Two are in there at a time. It is the worst for poor Kate who has slight OCD and gets crazy when Debs and Helen, are not the tidiest people, leaving their stuff everywhere!

We are surrounded by kit and it is quite a squeeze. Due to the fact that everything is constantly damp, the smell is something I think we will never forget.

In another cabin there is Julia and Katie. They can’t even sit up and it is very dark at night. Julia says: ‘ I can’t believe how quickly I have adapted to my new home, which I can’t even sit up in. I must say that I am glad that I am sharing with the second tidiest ha! ha!

Debs says:

What a journey it has been for me. When I found out Andrea was leaving, I instantly felt pressure on me. I knew I was going to have to step up as skipper. We had one day till we had to leave, so we thought that it was best that we wait and let things settle down. Especially for me to learn to skipper in two days. I spent two days with the boat learning everything about her and all the equipment.  I wanted to make sure that I could lead the team the best I could. We were challenged from the outset with things going wrong and breaking, but have really pulled together. We try and laugh through everything, I am so proud of this team.

We have had set backs but still have our eye set on getting the record. We are staying positive that these set backs won’t affect our goal.

I am always trying to make sure that the team are happy and looking after themselves, I know that as long as we stay positive and happy, we can get through everything. In a way, leading the team has been good for me because I have to stay strong for them.  Julia asked me why I was never scared and the truth is, I concentrate so much on making sure everyone is happy and fine, that I don’t even have time to think about being scared. I am really enjoying my role and I love this team. I cannot wait for us to pull into Barbados, triumphantly!


Soggy Sandwiches

December 19th, 2011 by

Day 13 and the team feel like they haven’t had a day on board when something hasn’t broken… Fingers crossed today will be their lucky day.

Expedition HQ have recieved the first set of images from the team since they left La Gomera on December 7th (see above and top right). We are hoping to upload Debbie’s first witten blog on the official Row For Freedom website this afternoon, so watch this space….

After an eventful weekend with choppy waters and strong currents, the girls have had a few water problems in their cabin thanks to a faulty hatch. As a result, this has left some of the expedition food in a rather soggy state, so the team have been forced to move everything on deck to dry in the sun.

Alongside this, the additional water has made The Guardian slightly heavier than usual, meaning extra muscle required from the team!

Click here to listen to Kate Richardson’s latest voiceblog when she tells us all about The Guardian’s water problems and how the team have found a new method to dry all their clothes!


1000 Miles. 10 Days. 5 Girls. 2 Charities. 1 Ocean.

December 16th, 2011 by

Day 10 and after successfully completing 1,000 miles, the Row For Freedom team are over a third of the way into what is generally considered to be the world’s toughest adventure – The Talisker Whisky Trans Atlantic Challange.  It is a little known fact that more people have climbed to the summit of Everest than have rowed an ocean.  The Row for Freedom Team have found their stroke this week, and seem to be in high spirits as they communicate with their shore-based support.

Conditions at sea have certainly calmed compared to earlier in the week, however the team are still experiencing high winds and waves of over 30ft! As a result, the girls have adopted a new highway code of crawling between deck and cabin to ensure no one goes overboard.  Nobody want’s a repeat ofTeam Tom’s 10hr rescue operation from earlier in the week.

The Guardian’s” autohelm is still not functioning efficiently and the crew are also having a few problems with their rudder. So for the time being, the girls continue to steer manually and are still undertaking manual upkeep of the craft during the daylight hours.

The Row for Freedom team have left three voiceblogs, detailing their life on the open sea.  Do take a moment to listen to their satellite feed from thousands of miles away.  Thanks Iridium!

We have two voiceblogs for you to listen to:

Debbie on breakfast and naked rowing click here

Kate on life on the Atlantic, daydreams and cabin fever, we’ve had to edit out some cheeky bits! Listen here

1 Comment »

Debbie on Breakfast and the Naked Rower

December 15th, 2011 by

Debbie checks into Expedition HQ and tells us all about her M&M themed breakfast, the choppy ocean waters and the first crew member to row naked! Listen here to find out who!

1 Comment »

Girl Power 1, Solar Power 0

December 12th, 2011 by

Coming up to a week at sea, the Row For Freedom crew are beginning to get into the swing of their individual ocean-going routines.

Sea sickness is taking its toll but the girls are in high spirits and are determined to push on to clock up the miles.

The weekend saw overcast weather on both Saturday and Sunday. This has given the girls a pleasant break from the high temperatures they were experiencing last week.

Unfortunately, the cloudy sky hasn’t helped the power situation onboard The Guardian. They are managing for now, however, the batteries on board are recharged by the solar panels on the roof of the cabin.

Having power is key to filtering water and charging the satellite navigation system.  As a result, the team have had to cut back on their power usage, meaning less cups of tea all round!

Clear skies are forecast for the week ahead, so hopefully the power supply will be back to normal soon. Fingers crossed that the extra caffine will help fuel the girls up the race order!


Debbie Checks into the Row For Freedom Voicemail

December 12th, 2011 by

Listen as Skipper Debbie Beadle calls the Row For Freedom voicemail and tells us about the crew’s sea-sickness and recent progress.

The Guardian, being a small ocean-rowing boat, subjects the team to the full rolling motion of the sea.

Seasickness is very common amongst transatlantic rowers, so there’s nothing to worry about at this stage. As long as the girls keep on top of things and stay hydrated, they’ll be fine.

Better still, continuous exposure helps the average person become immune to it over time. Over the next week they should start to feel better.

Better weather is on its way. Click here and listen to Debbie’s voice blog.

We’re really proud of them here at Expedition HQ! Please keep your messages of support coming and we’ll pass them on via the satphone!

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The Row For Freedom team are in 11th position

December 9th, 2011 by

With 2,335 miles to go, all the teams are faring well and it is full steam ahead.

Covered in salt and embracing their new surroundings for the next month, Box Number 8 are in first position.  The group of six servicemen, from Row 2 Recovery are not far behind, in second, and definitely have their sights on first place. Atlantic 4 took third position after battling it out with Spirit of Cornith who are currently sitting on fourth place. To keep up to date with the excitement that is unfolding throughout the weekend, keep watching the teams here 

The girls are rowing strong and are in high spirits. The Row For Freedom team have leapt into 11th position on just the third day. With the wind behind them, the team of five are chasing down the other teams with full gusto and have six other crews behind them.

The new team of five have had to adjust to new shift patterns as well as their new home at sea. The girls are having two sets of two, where Debbie is the floater. This means that she will join each shift adding an additional hour for her to row each day. The experience so far for the girls has been one of breathtaking views, starry nights and countless cups of teas.


Row For freedom on Sky Sports News

December 9th, 2011 by

45 minutes before “The Guardian” set sail, Sky Sports News reporter Kirsty Gallacher had a quick interview with the captain Julia Immonen.  With butterflies and shaky legs, Julia was in high spirits and excited to start their double world-record attempt.

Click here to watch to the interview

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Debbie’s Voiceblog on Day One

December 8th, 2011 by


After a successful first day at sea, the Row For Freedom team are already making fantastic progress.

With fairer winds coming in from the south, the conditions across the Atlantic are constantly changing. As a result, the crew have made the most of this new weather window and have decided to head west from La Gomera passing El Hierro, the most westerly of the Canary Islands.

This new route puts the Row For Freedom team and their boat, The Guardian, in good stead and they are already in 12th place of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Skipper Debbie Beadle left her first voiceblog of the challenge and tells us all about the teams first night at sea.

Listen to Debbie’s voiceblog here


And they’re off!

December 7th, 2011 by

At 07:55am this morning, the Row For Freedom team finally left the shores of La Gomera to start their 3,000 mile double-world record attempt.

As well-wishers cheered along the shoreline, all the crew members were in high spirits as their boat, The Guardian, left the marina in San Sebastian for the very last time.

With fair winds ahead, the team have plotted a steady path and are hoping to make good progress for the first week of their exciting challenge.


Audio Diary: Julia in the cabin

December 2nd, 2011 by

Check out the latest Audio Diary from Julia on the teams preparations in the lead up to launch day.

Listen Here

“Hi there is Julia here reporting in at 10:50 on a Friday morning.

It has been really great to be out on the sea for the past few hours. The girls are just rowing now and I am in the forward cabin and lying down on my back so I don’t get seasick. Helen has been feeling ill but she is out now rowing and feeling a lot better. I think when you are in these cabins it is a little bit tougher but I am finding lying on the back is definitely a lot easier.

We did a late night row last night as well, so we are getting a lot of experience. We are looking forward to race day in two days time- can’t believe it. Sun shining so it is pretty hot in this cabin. We are packing up the boat this today with all the food and stuff so it is going to get quite cosy in here.

Just wanted to report in. Take care. Bye”

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Audio Diary: Debbie sets the compass

November 29th, 2011 by

Check out the latest Audio Diary from Debbie on the setting the compass in the right direction for success.

Listen Here

“Hi this is Debbie from Row For Freedom.

We just went out on the water for the first time to swing our compass.This means that we had to go out and keep the boat on one level. We had to swing the boat around one way and then the other way to make sure we calibrated our compass. Hopefully it will get us to Barbados in the right direction.

Just had a few little minor changes to make to our boat. Tomorrow we will go on a long row, hopefully overnight which will give us a feel of what it is going to be like out on the water overnight.

It is beautiful here so it should set us in a really good mood and good stead to get started.

All of us are very excited and we really can’t wait to get going, It looks like the race start is going ahead on Sunday. We have good weather and good hold so hopefully we will have a good start and a good stead to get that record we want.”

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Row For Freedom on BBC London

November 14th, 2011 by

BBC London take a look as the team prepares:

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Row For Freedom on BBC London

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Logicalis Announced as New Gold Sponsor

November 8th, 2011 by
Row For Freedom is delighted to announce Logicalis UK as a Gold Sponsor. Yesterday Fiona Mactaggart MP joined Julia Immonen and Mark Starkey, Logicalis UK Commercial Director and Natalie Matthews, Operations Director for the handing over of the cheque for the local media.

“Logicalis is incredibly proud to sponsor Sport Against Trafficking in their Row for Freedom campaign against human trafficking. When we heard through Fiona Mactaggart, Slough MP, that a local girl and her crew would be the first female crew of 6 to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean we knew we had to get involved. To help them in their aim to raise public awareness of Human Trafficking we will be actively promoting their cause over the coming months.”

Mark Starkey, Commercial Director at Logicalis UK.
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Row For Freedom on Sky Sports News!

November 6th, 2011 by
Sky Sports News reporter Roger Clark joined Row For Freedom team members Julia Immonen, Debbie Beadle and Helen Leigh at the Leander Club to film their training with Sir Matthew Pinsent. After a brilliant early morning session on the water, the quadruple Olympic gold medal rower gave the team and the Sky Sports News crew a tour of the Leander Club steeped in rowing history and memorabilia. Sky Sports news featured the Row For Freedom story on 31.10.11. If you missed it you can watch it here.


‘I Will Survive’ song available on iTunes for Row For Freedom Charities!

November 6th, 2011 by

The Row For Freedom team are honoured that American singer songwriter Valerie Pagan and Sleeping Giant Productions have produced an incredible song called ‘I Will Survive’. Watch Valerie’s video to hear how she was inspired by Row For Freedom to make a difference to fight the cause of human trafficking. This phenomenal song is one of hope, freedom and breaking through. ‘I Will Survive’ along with the tranZitions album is available on iTunes now!  Please support this Song For Freedom, Row For Freedom and the cause! Thank you Valerie and Sleeping Giant Productions! We will be playing this during the row to keep us inspired.

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Anti Slavery Day on the Thames with Sir Matthew Pinsent

October 31st, 2011 by

On 18th October, the Row For Freedom team came together to highlight Anti Slavery Day. The team rowed The Guardian down the Thames from Westminster alongside a boat of MP's. Together they arrived at Westminster Boating Base where four times Olympic gold medalist Matthew Pinsent named the boat. Once the boat officially received her name 'The Guardian sponsored by Manpowergroup' the Row For Freedom team and ECPATUK handed over their report which calls on the UK Government to provide a system of guardianship. Some of the child victims of trafficking which team rower Debbie works with attended the event.

'It was such a lovely atmosphere all day It was extra special for me being part of the team, but also seeing the young people speaking about what is important to them and why having a guardian would have helped them. Having Sir Matthew Pinsent name our boat was such an honour. The day couldn't have been better!'

Debbie Beadle

To read the report and learn more about our campaign for guardianship go to

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Row For Freedom meet Prime Minister David Cameron

October 31st, 2011 by

On the 19th October Row For Freedom were invited to a private meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron. The team were shown around number 10 Downing Street and spent time with the Prime Minister who was interested in meeting the first female 6 team to row the Atlantic unaided. The team discussed with Mr Cameron about why they are rowing to raise awareness about human trafficking.

‘The week has been such a whirlwind.  It didn’t really hit me that we were meeting the prime minister and how big that was until we walked into number 10. It is such an honour to be part of this team not only because I have made five great new friends, but to be part of something which is really trying to make a difference.’

Helen Leigh

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Row for freedom team outside parliament on Anti Slavery Day 18th Oct

October 17th, 2011 by

On the 18th October it is Anti Slavery Day. The Row For Freedom will be rowing from Westminster alongside a boat of MP’s. Four times Olympic Gold Medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent is then going to name the Boat ‘The Guardian Sponsored by Manpowergroup’ The boat is named after the Row For Freedom/ECPAT UK call on the UK Government to implement a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. For more information go to ECPAT UK

Or help us by taking action:

1.  Take action! Support Row For Freedom/ECPAT UK campaign to call for the UK Government to provide a Guardian to keep children safe. Write essay to your MP here:

2. Help us raise £1 million by donating to our charities ECPAT UK and The A21 Campaign who work tirelessly in the fight against Human Trafficking. /donate/

3. Are you a business who would like to sponsor us? Download our sponsor document. /wp-content/themes/RFF/pdf/RFFSponsorDoc_web.pdf

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Art 4 Freedom raises £20,000

October 14th, 2011 by

Row For Freedom team and Ella Pugh-Smith hosted the fundraising event Art 4 Freedom on 11th October at the 20th Century Theatre, in Notting Hill. The event was hosted by Sky Sports News Presenters Charlotte Jackson and Simon Thomas. We were very privileged to have Managing Director of Sotheby’s Anthony Weld Forester to host the auction. Many thanks to all our artists who donated wonderful pieces, including Garard Stamp, ex cricket captain Michael Vaughan who painted  a piece called Row For Freedom and Charlie Mackesy. In total for the night we raised £20,000 for our charities A21 Campaign and ECPAT UK.

We want to say a very special thanks to Ella Pugh-Smith for organising the event and all the support from the volunteers. we could not have don it without you. xxx

Row For Freedom Team with ECPAT UK Director Chrsitine Beddoe and A21 UK Ambassador Beth Redman

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Midomo Water purifyer for developing world

October 11th, 2011 by

Midomo Water PurifierMidomo Water Purifier Watch Row For Freedom Gold Sponsor film about the Midomo water purifier for developing world. Each Midomo bracelet you buy sources a water purifier. It is such an amazing organisation doing amazing work. We are so proud to have them as our sponsor.

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Julia Immonen wins Inspirational award representing Row For Freedom

October 10th, 2011 by

Row For Freedom team with Dragon Deborah Meaden Julia, Katie and Debbie attended the Inspirational Awards for Women on Friday night It was an amazing night full of women and young girls who are achieving great things. For most of the night there was not a dry eye on the house. Our very own Julia Immonen won an award for inspiring people through our Row For Freedom Campaign. Other winners included Dragon Dens Deborah Meaden, Karren Brady, Lady GaGa and Annie Lennox for life time achievment. What a stage for Julia and our Row For Freedom to be sharing.

We were very honoured to be represented there.

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Why I Row For Freedom- Katie Pattison-Hart

October 6th, 2011 by

Katie Pattison-HartI decided to have a year out from the corporate environment after 8yrs in Banking, where I set up a branch of an International bank in the UAE, followed by a year as a Sales Director for a consulting firm.

I made a list of everything I wanted to achieve outside of corporate life and in there was a very clear focus on sports, physical and mental challenges that I wanted to pursue. I must say that rowing was not on my list! I didn’t even know how to row! That said I feel very at home on a boat and I love being near the water.

I then met Julia Immonen at a BBQ in Dubai earlier on this year and we chatted about endurance training. We clicked straight away and I was so intrigued and excited by the campaign RowForFreedom I literally jumped on board.

My eyes have since been opened to this horrific crime of trafficking and I love that we are 6 ordinary girls all passionate about this challenge to raise awareness against child trafficking and promote freedom. The thought that the young traffick victims are put in such awful situations will be the motivation to push ourselves through the pain barriers that we will feel whilst training and crossing the Atlantic.

I can’t get enough of our time together as a team (I wonder if I’ll be saying that after 40 days at sea together J). The energy between us is just amazing. We’ve definitely left lasting impressions where ever we go and we will continue to do so to help raise awareness to fight child trafficking across the world xxx


How you can get onboard with Row For Freedom

September 26th, 2011 by

1. Help us raise £1 million by donating to our charities ECPAT UK and The A21 Campaign who work tirelessly in the fight against Human Trafficking. /donate/

2. Are you a business who would like to sponsor us? Download our sponsor document. /wp-content/themes/RFF/pdf/RFFSponsorDoc_web.pdf

3. Take action! Support Row For Freedom/ECPAT UK campaign to call for the UK Government to provide a Guardian to keep children safe. Write to your MP here:

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Why I Row For Freedom – Skipper Andrea Quigley

September 23rd, 2011 by

I found out about Ocean Rowing in the Fall of 2010 when a woman I row with in Boulder was accepted onto a Woodvale Works crew, and has subsequently become the oldest woman to row an ocean. With an immense love of the ocean, an adventurous heart, 7 years of experience at sea, and 5 years of rowing, it only seemed logical that my next adventure in life would be to row across an ocean. I became obsessed with finding a way to accomplish my desire. I read and researched everything I could find on Ocean Rowing, earning one of my nicknames amongst our crew – Sherlock. As luck or fate would have it, I found my way in January 2011 to an online video by Julia Immonen, who was putting out a call for crew for ‘Row for Freedom’. I instantly knew that was “the boat”. I sent her an email and within 24 hours it was ‘sealed’, and I was on board.

I started with wanting to row an ocean, but then the cause of human trafficking captured my heart, and continues to do so. There are so many atrocities in this world, but clearly human trafficking is one very deserving of more attention, awareness, and assistance. I see my participation in this row as taking an action that hopefully is extreme enough to get people to take notice, and then to take action against this horrendous crime against humanity that is going on in every country in the world. In addition, I also see the efforts of 6 ordinary women doing this extraordinary challenge as something very worthy of being a part of, and of which I feel privileged to be skippering. I hope our row inspires and brings people to action, and that will make all of the hardships we endure more than worth it! Andrea xx


Gold Sponsor Red Button Design show their support of Row For Freedom

September 22nd, 2011 by

It is estimated that 10 million young girls fall victim to human trafficking every year, of which a majority are between 8 and 10 years old. With many of the effects of the water crisis also leading contributors to trafficking, Red Button Design and the Midomo Bracelet campaign are proud to announce their formal support for the Row For Freedom challenge.

Lack of access to safe drinking water contributes to poverty and disease, impacts access to healthcare and education, holds back gender equality and takes young women outside of the community for hours of the day into potentially unsafe environments where they are at risk of abduction and trafficking.

Midomo is a household-level water transport, purification and storage solution for use in the developing world. The device uses an internal filter system, powered by the rotation of the wheels, to transform harmful water to drinkable water on-the-go. A user would roll the unit to the nearest source of water, fill the 50 litre tank, and roll it home. Once home, the water drawn from the unit is potable to World Health Organisation standards.For many young women, simple water management solutions like the Midomo unit could reduce their risk of becoming victims of trafficking. It is our hope that the strong symbolism of the ‘Row For Freedom’ venture and the amazing physical challenge to the

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6 brave women involved, will inspire others to look at ways they can support the eradication of modern day slavery.

To this end, we’re also pleased to announce that the Row For Freedom crew will be sporting Midomo Bracelets, each covering the cost of donating a Midomo to an African community; supporting a young woman and her family out of water poverty and into education and employment.

For more information about Red Button Design, Midomo and the Midomo Bracelet, visit or , or you can follow us on twitter @RedButtonDesign

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Why I row for freedom – Debbie Beadle

September 19th, 2011 by

Debbie Beadle

I have been working in the Human Rights field for over 10 years. Working with people who often are denied their rights and not treated fairly. Julia first came to ECPAT UK to ask about child trafficking in the UK and how she could help, she mentioned about the row. I had just finished 30 physical challenges for my 30th birthday, so of course straight away it appealed to my competitive and adventurous side. I said to Julia immediately that I would be interested. However I had to really think about it, we had to raise a lot of money to get to the start line and I kept thinking, if I received that money for my Youth

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Programme at ECPAT UK I could do a lot to support child victims of trafficking. It would also mean that I spent 3 months away from the young people I support which seemed a little selfish. After I thought about it, I decided that I would take the risk, spending that money would lead to making a lot more and with the media and awareness we would raise it all be worth it. I also hope that by seeing and experiencing me doing something so positive and challenging it may also inspire the young people I work with and give them something to get excited about and look forward to. It has been an adventure up to now and I am excited to get on that ocean and push myself to the limit. I am confident that my risk will pay off and I we will achieve something amazing! Debs x

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Row For Freedom at the Great River Race

September 18th, 2011 by

Yesterday Row For Freedom raced against 300 other competitors 21 miles down the River Thames in the Great River Race. It started off with some damage control when our oars could not be delivered due to a broken down van. Luckily Putney Town Rowing Club, who are kindly training team members Julia Immonen and Debbie Beadle, came to our rescue and lent us some oars. ITV news interviewed the team before the start, then we went on our way. Terrible weather and strong winds caused us some problems at the beginning where we nearly had to adopt the new name ‘Tow For Freedom’. Luckily the weather cleared and we managed to have a fun and enjoyable race. Thank you to the Great River Race for a wonderful day and also a great thank you to Simon and Gemma at Woodvale for delivering our boat and putting in a long day.

Crispin Peacock Martinez, Photography

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Row For Freedom training with Adventure Hub

September 1st, 2011 by

The Row For Freedom team travelled to Norfolk to visit Ian Couch and Lee Fudge from Adventure Hub. The team were pushed both mentally and physically to ensure that they are ready for their epic challenge. Adventure Hub specialise in expeditions and training to partake in adventure challenges. Team member Katie Pattison-Hart says:

“Ian has been incredibly helpful, welcoming and has gone above and beyond what we were expecting from the course. You can see he really cares about our development as a team.”

For more information go to

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Children trafficked for Cannabis Trade

July 28th, 2011 by

Watch Al Jazeera programme on Vietnamese Children trafficked to UK forced to grow cannabis. ECPAT UK, Row For Freedom chosen charity advised on story.

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On Main TV Channel in Finland

July 19th, 2011 by

Julia Immonen from Row For Freedom talks about the challenge on a main national TV channel in Finland, her homeland!

Watch the interview here

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ECPAT UK Talk about child trafficking into and within UK

July 12th, 2011 by

Read today’s Daily Express article about child trafficking into and within the UK. The article highlights the different forms of exploitation that these children are subjected to. ECPAT UK’s director is quoted and our call for a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking is mentioned.

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Watch ‘Stolen’ BBC One tonight!

July 3rd, 2011 by

Episode image for Stolen

Watch ‘Stolen’ a BBC drama about child trafficking in the UK, Starring Damian Lewis. ECPAT UK our chosen charity advised on the script

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Row For Freedom at Henley Regatta

July 3rd, 2011 by

Row For Freedom team were at Henley Regatta. Follow them on Twitter and facebook to see the latest pictures. @juliaImmonen!/pages/Row-for-Freedom/121608017920088

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Row for Freedom team members participate in UGS event: “Ordinary 2 Extraordinary”

June 15th, 2011 by

How ordinary girls can do extraordinary things! Great speakers lined up, so get ready to:

Be Inspired
Be Challenged
Make a Difference

Unify Global Sport has teamed up with Sport Against Trafficking to support the challenging journey RFF team member Kate Richardson,who will row across the Atlantic aiming to raise public awareness and money for projects to tackle human trafficking.

All proceeds of the event go towards Row For Freedom

Tickets cost £20 p/p : tickets to go soon so reserve your place by contacting us on

Champagne reception included!

Further info is available to view here.


Row For Freedom in Dubai

June 14th, 2011 by

Row For Freedom team members Debbie Beadle and Katie Pattison-Hart on Dubai One.

See the show here

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Kate promoting Row in Northern Ireland

June 14th, 2011 by

Kate Richardson (22) Row For Freedom youngest rower raising awarness about the teams challenge in her home town Portadown. See full story‏

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Why I Row For Freedom – Julia Immonen

June 3rd, 2011 by

Julia Immonen

In 2008 I caught a glimpse of a TV screen that showed a powerful short video about human trafficking by The A21 Campaign that changed my life! I couldn’t believe that as an ordinary, educated woman I knew nothing about human trafficking. My jaw was literally on the floor, my hands gripped the seat as the statistics and stories unfolded. I felt like my heart was being shattered piece by piece. I was ignorant but now I wasn’t. Slavery is rife and I knew nothing about it! I was shocked beyond words and my heart ached for these women and children – some as young as 4 years old being forced into prostitution!

I felt such an urgency to do something. For a couple of months I was so frustrated as to what I could do to make a difference to this injustice. I was overwhelmed so I decided to use what was in my hand and that was to use sport against trafficking. An initial half marathon has now turned into rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean! My love for sport and heart for this injustice are the combined inspiration to Row For Freedom.

SPORT for FREEDOM is all about ordinary people doing something extraordinary ‘for freedom’. I hope you’ll use whatever’s in your hand to make a difference to change the person at a time. William Willberforce spearheaded the abolition of slavery. Slavery is far greater now than it ever has been. I believe it will be down to everyone playing their part to ‘be the change’ we want to see. What will you do ‘for freedom’? I’m delighted to have you on board our Row For Freedom Atlantic adventure. It’s going to be OARsome!



Row For Freedom Supporter: James Corden

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