Major Mick, 80, bids to row homemade Tintanic boat 100 miles for charity

Retired Army major Michael Stanley is sailing along the Chichester canal at 2mph for his fundraising challenge.

Major Mick, 80, bids to row homemade Tintanic boat 100 miles for charity

An 80-year-old retired Army major has embarked on a 100-mile charity challenge travelling at 2mph in his home-made boat.

Michael Stanley, who served in The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for 35 years, created the boat, named the Tintanic, out of two sheets of corrugated iron, curtain hooks and hosepipe.

He has set himself the target of rowing it 100 miles along the Chichester canal in West Sussex.

The veteran, known as Major Mick, had aimed to raise £1,000 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Bosham but has already surpassed £8,000.

He told the PA news agency: “I got two sheets of corrugated iron, put them together and tried to make them float.

“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.”

Mr Stanley said his only luxury onboard was his wife’s garden kneeling pad, and added: “It’s how I imagine sitting in a Rolls-Royce.”

Michael Stanley, also known as ‘Major Mick’, sets off from Hunston, West Sussex, to row along the Chichester canal
Michael Stanley, also known as ‘Major Mick’, sets off from Hunston, West Sussex, to row along the Chichester canal (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Describing the reactions from passers-by, he added: “My reward is seeing people’s faces, and what they are thinking 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.”

Michael Stanley uses a net to collect donations from members of the public at the half way point in Chichester Basin
Michael Stanley uses a net to collect donations from members of the public at the half-way point in Chichester Basin (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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.”

Mr Stanley, from Chichester, is completing his 100-mile journey in stages going back and forth on the Chichester canal with the aim of completing the challenge by December 18.

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