HE spent 15 years as a special forces soldier, but nothing could have prepared John Davidson for 76 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean.

The 57 year-old, from Worcestershire, has now arrived in Antigua following his gruelling challenge which saw him rowing for at least 16 hours every day.

During his journey, he has battled illness so bad it caused convulsions, extreme weather conditions and near-constant electrical and steering issues.

He braved the Atlantic Ocean without any home comforts - not even a pillow - so he could push himself to his limit, and had to spend more than two months without his wife Jessica and four children, Lara, Hamish, Gretel and Lochlann, who were all there to greet him in Antigua.

John was rowing the Atlantic to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie foundation, which raises funds to aid research into motor neurone disease.

The veteran, originally from Fintry, left on December 12 last year and said: “This has been my biggest challenge, but also the most incredible experience of my life. I am so grateful to be back on land and see my family who I have missed so much. Speaking to them by satellite phone was a lifeline during my darkest moments.

"Memories of the sickness and struggle will fade with the passage of time and the sea could be terrifying, but I’ll always treasure the wildlife I witnessed, the sunrises and sunsets I saw and the clarity of thought I experienced. When the going got tough, and it did, many, many times, I just remembered why I started all this in the first place, because I was inspired by Doddie Weir and his indefatigable spirit in his battle with Motor Neurone Disease.”

Rugby icon Doddie Weir, capped 61 times by Scotland, revealed he was suffering from MND in 2017. In the years since, he launched My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to help fellow sufferers and to raise funds for further research into the, as yet, incurable disease.

For the challenge, John took on Doddie Weir’s nickname of “mad giraffe”, and Doddie said: “I couldn’t think of a better man to lend the ‘Mad Giraffe’ moniker. I’m completely in awe of John and have followed along with every stroke of his oar. I can’t wait to meet up with him once he’s back in Scotland so I can tell him for myself what a massive impact his efforts will have on our foundation.”

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