Crawley friends’ bid to row to France in a taxi boat


A woman plans to cross the English Channel in a seventeenth century style taxi boat.

Coral Atkinson, 33, of Brantridge Road, Furnace Green, and a team of five people who have never rowed before aim to raise £12,000 for a charity that helps disabled and disadvantaged children, AHOY.

The team of two women and four men will set off from Dover in early August.

They hope to row the 23 miles in around six hours.

The six-seat wooden boat was based on water taxis used in the River Thames during the seventeenth century.

Coral said: “It’s really hard just sitting on a wooden plank.

“It’s a technique in itself.

“Setting off won’t be so bad, it’s when you’re out there in the open water and you don’t have anything to focus on.”

AHOY is based in Deptford, London, and runs watersports-based apprenticeships and courses for disabled and able-bodied children. It provided the boat.

Coral said her family came from the Deptford area.

She said: “The kids growing up in the area don’t have many opportunities.

“You don’t get that opportunity unless you have quite a lot of money really.

“I know for the future there’s a lot of kids that are missing out that could be really good rowers.”

She added: “The work that they do for the disabled particularly is really important.

“I’ve worked with the blind and disabled before and I know that things like sailing and team sports can really help with building confidence and making friends.”

Coral started volunteering for the Royal London Society for Blind People last year.

She said: “Working with the blind they tell me they just want to be treated like normal, they want to experience a bit of thrill and excitement and this provides that definitely.”