The team of ten, made up of volunteer lifeboat crew members and RNLI staff, rolled into Paris by bike to arrive at the Eiffel Tower just after 7pm UK time on Saturday 21 September.
Their arrival in Paris was the culmination of a four-day triathlon which saw them run 117km from London to Dover, swim the English Channel from Dover to Calais, and cycle 287km from Calais down to Paris.
The event, named “Tower 2 Tour”, was the brainchild of Toni Scarr, volunteer lifeboat crew member at Tower RNLI Lifeboat Station on the River Thames, who aimed to raise £13,000 to fund the annual training costs of training ten new lifeboat crew members.
The finish was made all the more special by the surprise proposal of marriage to group leader Toni Scarr beneath the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower.
In actual fact, the team have raised a whopping £17,600, smashing their original target by thousands. Toni said: ‘After many months of preparation and countless hours logistics planning, we finally made it on Saturday evening! The last few days have been interesting to say the least, with broken sleep, some rather odd nutritional choices, and a heck of a lot of physical effort. But what an adventure it has been!’
The team set off from Tower RNLI Lifeboat Station at 3.30am on Wednesday, taking it in turns to run various distances of between 8-20km, reaching Dover RNLI Lifeboat Station just before 3.15pm.
Toni said: ‘We were watching the weather forecast all throughout Wednesday in the hope that we would be able to keep to our scheduled Channel swim time of 6pm that evening. Sadly, the weather was against us, and we had to stay in Dover overnight.’
As an insurance policy in case the weather did not improve, the team decided to swim the equivalent distance of swimming the English Channel by completing 34km within the walls of Dover harbour. ‘Thankfully we got the all-clear to swim on Friday morning,’ said Toni, ‘so we stayed in Dover one more night and we set off at 8am on Friday morning. 17 hours and 22 minutes later we reached France after an exhausting day and night of sea swimming.’
The final leg began immediately on reaching land, with the team cycling in pairs throughout the night and early hours of Saturday, finishing with all ten cycling through central Paris to arrive at the Eiffel Tower by bicycle.
Toni said: ‘We wanted to raise money for the RNLI, and we certainly did that. But we also wanted to increase awareness of the work of the lifeboats in London, and we hope that the sight of ten exhausted people traversing their way from Dover to Paris in our branded clothing will have raised awareness, if a few eyebrows as well!’
The team consisted of Tower lifeboat crew members Toni Scarr, Nick Sammons, Robin Jenkins, Stephen Wheatley, Mark Novelle, and Giles Harrison; RNLI Public Relations Manager Tim Ash, Gravesend RNLI helmsman Ian Smith, and lifeboat supporters Jon Fowler and Naomi Climer.’
However, the trip simply would not have been possible without the invaluable contribution made by others, including fellow lifeboat crew member Matthew Leat, who was responsible for the difficult job of navigation, coordinating the team, and logistics. Toni said: ‘The ten of us did what we were supposed to do when we were supposed to do it, but there is no way on earth that would have happened without our support crew who made sure everyone and everything was in the right place at the right time. Matthew Olivier, Kathryn Webech and Claire Morgan from EEP Events were our support drivers, and EEP also loaned us three vehicles to make this all possible.’
In addition, the team would like to thank sports brand Aquasphere Ltd, who provided wetsuits and goggles, and Mike Oram, Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, for providing the pilot vessel at a discounted price.
The full breakdown of timings for each leg of the relay triathlon is as follows:
• 117km run from Tower RNLI to Dover RNLI – 11 hours, 48 minutes.
• 34km swim from Shakespeare Beach, Dover, to X beach, Calais – 17 hours, 22 minutes, 15 seconds.
• 287km cycle from Calais to Eiffel Tower, Paris – 16 hours, 45 minutes, 6 seconds.
The Tower to Tour event has a website where people can find out more and sponsor the group still http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=T2T&isTeam=true
RNLI media contacts
Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East)
0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789