A Stonehaven man left a busy harbour of emotional supporters on Tuesday to take on a North Sea challenge to row where no man has rowed before.
Mike Park has begun his journey to row single-handedly more than 400 miles from Stonehaven to Denmark whilst attempting to raise £100,000 for three different charities close to his heart.
The 53-year-old has been a navy man and fisherman all of his life and is now CEO of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association and key speaker at the 6th World Fisheries Congress. The voyage will see the keen seaman travel the widest stretch of water from port to port in the North Sea.
The local Grandfather has already raised half of his target for The Fisherman’s Mission, CLAN and Operation Smile UK. Mike chose to raise money for The Fisherman’s Mission because of the emergency and welfare support they offer fishermen and their families. He said: “The Fisherman’s Mission is particularly close to my heart, having been a navy man and fisherman all my life. Hardship and tragedy are facts of everyday life in fishing and I know many people personally that have turned to the Mission and funds are always needed and much appreciated.”
The Ury Estate resident chose CLAN as its a local charity and he describes the support the charity provide as “second to none”.
Last but not least, Operation Smile UK provides free surgery to repair cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities which can be corrected for as little as £150 and change a child’s life forever.
The fishing industry veteran has been brought up next to the sea after growing up at 1 Shore Head and the Park family say if anyone is going to manage it, it’s him.
Mr Park has been undergoing a strict training regime to get ready for the mammoth task. He has had to bulk up as he’s likely to lose around three stone in weight as he’s expecting to be rowing for 18 hours each and every day.
Mike’s son Barry Park said: “He’s fit enough to do it, how long he takes will just depend on what weather he has to tackle along the way. Hopefully he’ll be completing it in about 17 days.”
The skipper’s wife Janet who waved goodbye to her adventurer husband at the harbour said: “What he faces with weather will definitely be the biggest issue that could hold him back. He’s got a phone in the boat and he’ll be phoning twice a day to keep us updated on how he’s getting on and letting us know he’s safe.”
Mike said whilst in training: “I’m dedicating my time, health and sanity in what will be the ultimate physical challenge of my life.
“I welcome any support that can be provided and asking people to help make an impact by donating what they can for this worthwhile cause.”