Retired army major sets off on 100-mile row in his homemade boat 'Tintanic'

A retired army general who built a boat during lockdown plans to row it 100 miles to raise money for charity.

Michael Stanley, or Major Mick as he is known, fashioned ‘The Tintanic’ using two sheets of corrugated iron, curtain hooks and hosepipe.

Although it only travels at two miles per hour the 80-year-old is determined to row it 100 miles along the Chichester canal in West Sussex.

His only luxury onboard the boat will be his wife’s garden kneeling pad.

‘It’s how I imagine sitting in a Rolls-Royce,’ he said.

Major Stanley, who served in the army for 35 years, had aimed to raise £1,000 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Bosham but has already surpassed the £20,000 mark.

He said he had been inspired to make the boat during lockdown after a recent visit to India, where he saw the tin boats used.

‘I got two sheets of corrugated iron, put them together and tried to make them float,’ he said.

‘The initial attempts were not good because it wasn’t stable and I was tipped into the sea twice and had total immersion.

‘Then I developed the buoyancy fenders on both sides and it’s now reasonably stable, the only slight problem is when I get in and out, but I think I have mastered it now.’

The veteran, from Chichester, is completing his 100-mile journey in stages with the aim of finishing the challenge by December 18.

He said his reward is ‘seeing people’s faces, and what they are thinking’.

Describing reactions from passers by he added: ‘I don’t mind as long as it puts a smile on their faces, as in these times we need something to smile about.

‘I have been called all sorts of things: Merry Major, Legend, Awesome, Mad Major. Some woman said ‘I love you sir’ which is a bit over the top.

‘The most telling comment is the teenagers who said ‘that’s really cool’. For an 80-year-old to be called cool by a teenager is something special.

‘It’s fun and I really enjoy it and the generosity of the general public is wonderful, we have such nasty news but at its core it’s a fantastic country.’

Alex Burch, St Wilfrid’s Hospice community fundraising manager, said: ‘We are very proud so many people like Major Mick are willing to get active for St Wilfrid’s, finding new and exciting ways to support end-of-life care in their local community.

‘Thank you, Major Mick, stay safe and dry on your voyages.’

You can donate to Major Mick’s challenge here

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