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Bolton grandfather, 70, becomes oldest to row Atlantic unassisted, raising £640k for charity

A 70-year-old grandfather from Oldham has become the oldest person to row unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean – raising more than £640,000 for charity.

Frank Rothwell began his 3,000-mile challenge at Canary Island La Gomera on 12 December and crossed the finish line in Antigua in the Caribbean on 6 February – reuniting with Judith, his wife of 50 years.

He said crossing the finish line was a “completely euphoric moment” as he raised £648,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in tribute to his brother-in-law Roger, who died with the disease aged 62 during his row.

Mr Rothwell said: “I felt quite emotional approaching the finish. It took six long weeks to row the Atlantic, but the challenge itself has taken over 18 months of training and preparation, so I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and the unbelievable journey I’ve been on.

“While rowing, I received heart-breaking messages from people who have had similar experiences to my own, with my brother-in-law, Roger, so I hope I’ve helped other families in some way too.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has reached into their pockets and donated, having the support from so many means the world to me. Thank you.”

The adventurer, who previously spent five weeks on a deserted island for a Bear Grylls TV programme, rowed in a boat nicknamed Never Too Old.

Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation has pledged to double the first £500,000 of donations.

Sir Malcolm Walker. Iceland Foods founder, said: “I’ve known Frank for many years, so I knew his determination to complete a challenge would get him this far. But seeing the heart-warming and generous support he’s receiving from the public is astounding.”

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re incredibly moved by Frank’s determination to raise £1 million for dementia research. By taking on such a monumental challenge at 70 years old, he has helped to spread awareness and inspired people of all ages to take on their own challenges.

“To bring about life-changing treatments for dementia, fundraising efforts from ordinary people like Frank and his supporters provides a crucial lifeline to the progression of our research”

Donate to Mr Rothwell via his JustGiving page.

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