Serving fire fighters, Stuart Vince from St Mary’s Fire Station in Southampton and Craig Sadler from Cosham Fire Station in Portsmouth, took on the challenge of a lifetime.

Stu & Craig have both had to overcome some form of mental health problems during their working life; through the tragic loss of colleagues, the regular pressures of making life and death decisions and attending dangerous incidents on a daily basis. Through this trauma, the Minds Matter concept was born.

It is through Minds Matter, that Stu & Craig support mental health awareness, regularly holding mental health workshops and fundraising for charities. Supported by toob, the duo completed their biggest fundraising challenge to date, rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to raise over £16,000 for Solent Mind and the Fire Fighters Charity.

crossing an ocean…

37 days
37 days
rowing across the atlantic
2 hours
2 hours
each rowing on and off
3,000 nautical miles
3,000 nautical miles
in total to row

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is known as the world’s toughest row. It takes place over 3,000 nautical miles of treacherous, shark infested waters from San Sebastian in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua & Barbuda.

Throughout the journey, Craig and Stu battled sleep deprivation, 20ft waves, salt sores, huge calorie deficits, hallucinations, minimal shelter and homesickness – particularly on Christmas Day. Left with nothing but their thoughts, the vast ocean and the arduous task of getting the boat safely across the pond.

One in four people will experience some form of mental health issue in a given year. Mental health issues are responsible for 72 million working days lost, costing £34.9 billion each year. Poor mental health severely impacts on individuals and their families, especially those in the emergency services. (MHFA England, October 2020)

With a proactive approach to sponsorship, the guys are determined to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, reduce the stigma of mental ill health, educate and train people to become Mental Health First Aiders, as well as fundraising for their chosen charities: Solent Mind and The Fire Fighters Charity

This challenge is highly physically demanding and very few people have successfully completed it. Stu & Craig were supported in their preparation by students and staff at Southampton Solent University who helped to train them in reaching peak physical condition before setting out.

The duo are also training others through Mental Health First Aider courses available for staff to attend, raising awareness of mental health in the workplace.

have a little patience 

Accompanying the duo on their journey across the Atlantic was their rowing boat ‘Patience.’ Designed for a team of 2, Patience carried Stu & Craig 3000 miles to their final destination in Antigua.

Eleven watertight hatches secured over 700,000 calories worth of dry and wet food rations whilst their onboard water maker supplied 20 litres per day, for both consumption and cooking. Solar powered panels enabled the team’s crucial equipment to remain in operation during the crossing (backed up by 2 batteries in case of emergency!)

toob was thrilled to be the main sponsor for the Minds Matter Atlantic challenge. Looking forward, we are fully behind Stu & Craig, supporting their ongoing endeavours in mental health awareness.

The challenge may be over but the Minds Matter mission continues! Tap here to stay up to date on the duo’s current activity.

take a tour  of patience with Stu!

support the minds matter charities 



photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns