Ex-teacher who beat life-threatening illness completes solo Atlantic row

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A former teacher who suffered two tumours and a life-threatening illness has successfully rowed solo across the Atlantic.

Supporters of Kiko Matthews congratulated her on become the fastest female to complete the challenge, and said they are awaiting official timings.

The charity co-founder, who had never rowed before taking on the feat, nearly died after being struck down with Cushing’s disease in 2009 and suffered a second tumour last year.

Atlantic solo row challenge
Kiko Matthews arrives in Port St Charles, Barbados, becoming the fastest female to row solo across the Atlantic (Anthony Ball/PA)

Ms Matthews, who left her job as a science teacher to help found The Big Stand charity and a paddle-boarding business, suffered symptoms including memory loss, insomnia and osteoporosis during her illness.

In a modest reaction as she stepped off the boat, she said she was “a bit proud” of her achievement and hoped her story could inspire others.

“The thought that, eight months ago, I was lying in hospital having my brain operated on, and now I am here having rowed the Atlantic, I guess I am a bit proud.

“I have shown that anyone can attempt anything given the right attitude, belief, and support.

“I want to use my story to inspire women to challenge themselves.”

She arrived in Barbados late on Thursday (UK time) after 50 days at sea to be greeted by her parents, brother and nephew.

Her efforts in rowing 3,000 nautical miles from Gran Canaria have so far raised more than £70,000 to help build a new intensive care unit at the hospital.

In a message on a fundraising page, she added her thanks to those who had donated money, saying she could not have done it without them.

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