Bury St Edmunds woman stands up for girls’ rights with Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge

The Row Like a Girl team left-right: Gee Purdy, Bella Collins, Olivia Bolesworth, Lauren Morton

The Row Like a Girl team left-right: Gee Purdy, Bella Collins, Olivia Bolesworth, Lauren Morton - Credit: Archant

A determined rower will spend Christmas at sea as she stands up for every girl’s right to live without violence.

Bella Collins, 23, from Bury St Edmunds, is part of a four-woman team rowing across the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Bella and her crew-mates are crossing the ocean to raise funds for global children’s charity Plan, which is currently running its Because I am a Girl campaign.

Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times in April, Bella said nothing she had done before “comes near to this”.

“The Atlantic is known for its 40ft swells so it’s going to be tough, but when Lauren asked me to be in the team I knew I couldn’t say no,” said the brand and marketing assistant.

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Her rowing partners are Lauren Morton, 26, from Yorkshire; Olivia Bolesworth, 27, from West Sussex; and Gee Purdy, 23, from Oxfordshire.

Together, the team said before setting off: “We are four girls rowing for girls because we believe it is important to speak out in support of every girl’s right to live safe from violence, to go to school, to take key roles in their communities, to marry who they want, when they want and to have their voices heard.”

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Plan’s campaign aims to protect young girls from violence all over the world.

Setting off from La Gomera on Sunday morning, the RowLikeAGirl team and their fellow competitors are now eating away at the 3,000-mile non-stop journey to Antigua, which they hope to complete in under 48 days – a record for four people rowing the Atlantic.

The team must rely on their own determination to cross the ocean.

Lauren said: “In an emergency situation a rescue can be two or three days away, and we will be extremely vulnerable to whales, sharks and shipping lanes, let alone extreme weather and isolation.”

She said the main drive fuelling them was raising money for the campaign.

“We want to not only raise money to help Plan UK fight for girls’ rights around the world, but we also want to send the message to everyone that girls can do anything too. I view it as ‘four girls rowing for girls’,” she said.

This is Lauren’s second attempt at the challenge after a failed bid in 2013. She has also since been a contestant on Channel 4 show The Island with Bear Grylls.

Visit www.plan-uk.org/because-i-am-a-girl/about-because-i-am-a-girl/ and www.rowlikeagirl.uk

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