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Olympic rower helps launch Activate Learning Row Britannia Challenge to raise money for mental health causes

13 November 2019

Students and staff across Oxfordshire are limbering up to take part in a challenge to row thousands of miles to raise money for mental health charities – all within the comfort of our colleges!

Students and staff at City of Oxford College and Banbury and Bicester College will be kicking off their effort to row 2,020 miles on Tuesday 12 November as part of the Row Britannia Challenge for Sport Relief.

Row Britannia is a team challenge, to be completed by 13 March 2020, with a fundraising target of £3,000 for every team that enters.

Why Activate Learning wanted to get involved

Leanne Hicks, Head of Student Support at Activate Learning, said: “Activate Learning is committed to raising the profile of mental health across our colleges and fostering an environment where the stigma of talking about mental ill health is removed.

“When we heard about the Row Britannia Challenge we thought it would be a great way of helping to engage everyone around our colleges on the topic of mental health, while at the same time promoting physical activity.

“We are going to be reaching out to everyone on the campuses, parents and the various businesses we work with to see if they are willing to donate to our efforts, and we plan on having the rowing machines we will be using for the challenge in our reception areas to make sure that its prominent and everyone knows about it. No one will have an excuse for not having a go!”

Olympic inspiration for students

Students and staff at Activate Learning won’t need to look far for some inspiration, as World Champion and Olympic silver medallist rower Pete Chambers, who helps deliver our Rowing Academy provision in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, comes to City of Oxford College for the launch.

Leanne added: “We’ve been speaking with all our students that are part of the Rowing Academy and they are all very keen to be involved and I’m sure if we ask nicely we can get Pete to put in a shift on the machine and help us with our efforts!”

Pete, who won a silver medal in the lightweight men’s fours at the London 2012 Olympics and will be joined by our rowing students, said he was delighted to be able to help with our fundraising efforts.

He added: “Rowing is a fantastic sport and something that has brought a lot of happiness to my life and I think this challenge is a great way of raising the profile of the sport while at the same time helping an incredibly worthwhile cause.

“We have a great bunch of students with us in our Rowing Academy and I’m sure that they will be able to help put a decent dent in this target.”

The launch of the challenge across Activate Learning’s colleges will take place in the Oxford Lifestyle Centre at City of Oxford College on Tuesday 12 November at 12.30pm.

How to donate

Anyone who wants to donate to Activate Learning’s fundraising efforts can do so by going to