Matt and George’s ‘oarsome’ Atlantic row for Jack

It was an epic feat that took friends Matt and George a staggering 40 days, 16 hours and an incredible 3,000 miles.

Without any assistance, the duo successfully rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in a stunning show of support for Acorns Children’s Hospice, which will see the ‘Worcester Buoys’ raise an incredible £115,000 for local children and families in memory of a very special young man.

The World’s Toughest Row

Matt and George launched their bid to conquer the World’s Toughest Row back in 2020.

So moved by the loss of Matt’s family friend Jack Dyer at aged 16, the duo wanted to do something special to celebrate Jack and help raise vital funds for the charity that supported his family throughout his life.

The inspirational teenager was at the forefront of the friends’ minds throughout their journey, from the moment they set off from La Gomera in the Canaries in December to the moment they crossed the finish line in English Harbour, Antigua, on 22 January.

Rowing in shifts of two hours on and two hours off was exhausting and relentless. It was a difficult and often nearly impossible time at sea.

Matt and George faced broken oar-gates, damaged safety equipment, seasickness and some of the worst conditions the challenge has ever seen. But still, they powered through, keeping positive and bringing the infectious energy they’re known for every step of the way.

More than anything, what got them up in the middle of the night to battle 8-metre waves, ‘force 8’ storms or 30-degree heat, was the knowledge that they were rowing for Jack and a fantastic cause.

For Jack

With his infectious laugh and heart-melting smile, Jack was well-known and loved by everyone who met him. Complications at birth led to Jack being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

He began visiting Acorns for the Three Counties for short breaks when he was just nine months old.

Our Worcester hospice became a second home for Jack, his parents Dale and Sharon, and younger brothers Harry and Charlie.

Sadly, Jack’s health deteriorated in September 2020 and he was rushed to A&E, struggling to breathe. Although he had been in hospital before, it was clear that this time the situation was different.

After a number of weeks in hospital, specialists advised Jack’s parents, there was nothing more they could do for their son and he came to Acorns for end of life care.

Jack and his family spent nearly three weeks together at the hospice making precious memories before saying goodbye at Acorns in November.

Jack’s father Dale remembers those final few weeks:

“We did some amazing stuff. He loved being out in the garden, being able to see the trees and hear the birds.

“It gave us time with Jack. It was like he was saying: ‘I’ve had enough now – I’m going to give you time to get used to me not being at home – then I’m going to take a couple of weeks so it’s just me, mum and dad.’

“I felt it was almost like he made those decisions. It was like he was saying: ‘I’ve had enough now I want to go a different route.’

“The hospice allowed us to have the boys there as a family of five, so we could say our goodbyes.”

For Jack’s family, having Acorns there throughout his life and beyond has been a real lifeline.

Dale says: “There were two places that we felt that Jack was safest and happiest: at home, and at Acorns.

“It would have been a real nightmare with Acorns, I don’t even want to imagine it. If we hadn’t had the respite I don’t know where we would have ended up.

“What Acorns offers is physical respite but also mental respite – not having to think about things or worry – so you can actually go to sleep. In 16 years, I don’t think I ever had an unbroken night’s sleep.”

If Matt and George’s story has inspired you, you too can help us be there for children like Jack and their families

Rowing and race images credit to World’s Toughest Row