THERE are many easier ways of raising money than rowing across the Atlantic Ocean but friends Matt Bladen and George Farmiloe are not ones to shy away from a challenge.

Known as the Worcester Buoys, they completed the gruelling World’s Toughest Row in memory of city teenager Jack Dyer in a 25-foot long Rannoch boat over 40 days including Christmas.

They sailed 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean and hope to raise at least a stunning £110,000 for Acorns Children’s Hospice in the process.

But there was no end to the tests in store for the duo who bonded while at King’s School Worcester over a love of rowing.

Matt, 27, said: “It was crazy. The challenge appealed to us. It was much more of a mental challenge than physical, 100 times more.

“Our bodies were attacked from everywhere. You were coping with exhaustion, sleep patterns, constant rowing and constant niggles.

“It was a proper endurance event. We were burning 7,000 to 8,000 calories. George lost 5kg and I lost 6kg but that was quite positive as many were losing between 10 and 20. We were really shovelling food down at times.

“We were rowing for 12 hours a day constantly but also trying to enjoy life by doing things like crosswords on the deck.

“We heard unofficially that it was one of the hardest years ever in terms of conditions.

“I was really seasick for the first three days. I was throwing up every 20 minutes.

“I remember saying to George that I thought I was in trouble because I couldn’t keep the food down and was at massive risk of dehydration.

“But I managed to keep myself sane and not go delirious. Eventually I managed to keep some water and food down.

“But then the next day there was a crazy storm. It was a force eight which was right behind us and pushing us in vaguely the right direction.

“We lived inside the cabins because we were at risk of capsizing and everything was strapped down on the deck.

“Then the heat was 35 degrees as we approached the Caribbean. Outside you were exposed to the sun but in the cabins it was approaching 50 degrees and you were at risk of heat stroke.

“People from the UK are not exactly used to these temperatures and you were just trying to keep going.

“Everytime you had the opportunity to sleep, you did your best to but it was really hot.”

George, 26, and Matt managed to stay firm friends despite the challenges, ahead of both going back to a more regular daily routine with jobs in London.

Matt continued: “We were really happy with how we responded to it. You never know until you’re in that environment.

“A lot of crews have fallen out and when things go wrong people end up not speaking again. They go in as friends and then are enemies when they leave.

“It didn’t happen to us. We had a lot of intense debates, not necessarily about rowing, but then a pod of whales would pop up and we’d get distracted. There was always something to lift your spirits.

“When I was suffering from seasickness, we were passed by a pod of dolphins. A flying fish hit me in the face in the middle of the night. A squid also hit me in the arm.

“In the ocean it all makes you feel so small, especially when you have a whale next to you. They could lift the boat. It’s not in their nature but physically they could if they wanted to.

“Marlins were striking holes in boats, other crews saw big sharks. You could also be affected by large waves but thankfully we were OK. A member of another crew died, we believe, due to a heart attack.

“The ocean strips everything away from you and it’s a very humbling experience. You are like a fish out of water.”

The duo have already paid a poignant visit to Acorns with the father of Jack, the 16-year-old who had cerebral palsy and inspired them to raise the money.

They have collected around £86,000 so far but are also due to add funds from the sale of their rowing boat.

Jack, whose family lived next door to Matt in Claines, was looked after by the hospice and died in 2020.

The intrepid duo have also visited staff and pupils at Broadwas Primary School, which Matt used to attend and helped with fundraising, as well as King’s.

Matt added of their return: “It was just a whirlwind initially. Over the first five days neither me nor George got much sleep despite having soft, warm beds that weren’t rocking around.

“We have been catching up with family and sorting things in Antigua.”

Contributions are welcome at their fundraising page at