24 Hour Rowing Challenge in Memory of Margot

26 April 2017

This weekend (29-30 April) a Hertfordshire fundraiser will go the distance in memory of two-year-old Margot Martini, who lost her battle with blood cancer.

The Challenge

Neil Griffiths, 55, from Tring, Hertfordshire, will join 13 other ‘Team Margot’ rowers as they begin the Celtic Challenge, the world’s longest true row. They hope to complete the 120 mile journey from Arklow, County Wicklow, to Aberystwyth, West Wales, within a 24 hour period.

Neil will be raising awareness and funds for DKMS – we’re dedicated in helping the fight against blood cancer by recruiting potential blood stem cell donors.

In memory of Margot

Neil, will be rowing alongside Yaser Martini, 46, from Barnes, South West London. Yaser’s daughter Margot was just 14-months-old when she was diagnosed with both acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia in 2013.

After a national appeal Margot found her blood stem cell match in February 2014, from a 22-year-old German man. Following her transplant, unfortunately the ALL returned and she lost her blood cancer battle in October 2014 – the team are therefore completing the challenge in Margot’s memory.

Blood cancer runs in the family

Blood cancer also runs in Neil’s family as his mother, Cynthia, 83, from Tring, and his uncle, Geoffrey Packer, 85, from Hereford, were both diagnosed with lymphoma, a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system.

Neil said: “My mum was one of the lucky ones and whilst her spine crumbled with her secondary tumor leaving her disabled she has against all odds, survived after some amazing care and cancer treatment. She has been in remission for over two years and is living a full life and my uncle survived blood cancer too.”

“Whilst this fundraising challenge is the toughest thing I’ve tackled, it’s nothing compared to what someone living with blood cancer has to face. Please dig deep and help support this fantastic charity.”

Good luck wishes

Miquel Leon, Head of Fundraising at DKMS said: “Thank you to Neil for raising awareness of blood cancer, the important work DKMS does in recruiting potential blood stem cell donors and raising vital funds at the same time. We would urge people to join the DKMS register today and the funds raised from the challenge will help support the financial costs of registering new donors. On behalf of DKMS we wish Neil and the team the very best of luck with the challenge.”

A special thanks to the following companies for supporting: Bed and Bars, Sapient Corporate Finance, Punch Taverns, Elliotts Agency, Weightmans, A,G&G,TLT Solicitors and Pebble Hotels.

How you can help

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can register to become a potential lifesaver. Please join the DKMS register – sign up by click here.

You can support Neil’s challenge by making a donation through his JustGiving page.

Team Margot rowers Ben Hampshire, Brent Harris, Calum Barclay, Dr Phil Ancliff, (Margot’s Haematology Consultant), Emma McPhie, Ian Ross, Martin Beaumont (c), Matt Burgess, Neil Griffiths, Rob James, Sharon Lamb, Tom Singlehurst, Will Slack and Yaser Martini (Margot’s father). Support Team: Mike Smith (Rib driver) and Jeff Hathaway (Margot’s Grandad helping with boat transport).