Man to row from New York to Stornoway for charity

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A TV presenter who has battled with depression is to attempt a 3,400 mile solo row across the Atlantic to raise money for a mental health charity.

Niall Iain Macdonald, a Scottish Gaelic language radio and television producer, plans to begin his voyage next month in a purpose-built ocean rowing boat.

Niall Iain Macdonald, who is set to attempt to cross the Atlantic in a specially-designed rowing boat. Picture: PA

Niall Iain Macdonald, who is set to attempt to cross the Atlantic in a specially-designed rowing boat. Picture: PA

The 39-year-old from Inverness will take an uncommon route from New York to Stornoway, in the Western Isles, which he believes will take three months to complete.

Mr Macdonald aims to raise £100,000 for Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) which provides help, information and support to those with mental health problems.

He said: “With the help and support of family, friends and various health services, I overcame my problems.

“Since then I have tried to use my own experience to get people to talk more openly about mental health and show them that there is help and they are not alone.”

Only 10 people have successfully rowed across the North Atlantic and no one has attempted Mr Macdonald’s route.

The challenge will involve 12 hours of rowing every day.

In 2008, Mr Macdonald successfully rowed 46 miles across the Minch, between the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland, but the row from New York to Stornoway is more than 70 times as long.

He said: “The weather will happen and I’ll just have to deal with that, maybe I should be a bit more worried about myself.

“I’m the weak link in all this. With my own history of mental health I’m well aware that I’ll probably have days when I’ll struggle out there, but I’m better equipped now to manage those days and see a way through.

“A good thing I was told early on is that ‘every storm does pass’ and that’s true for my mental health and many other things I’ll encounter during my row.”

SAMH director Judith MacKinnon said: “SAMH is delighted to be the beneficiaries of Niall Iain’s unique adventure. His determination to complete this record-breaking voyage is truly inspirational.

“The NY2SY challenge will help to raise awareness of mental health as well as providing vital funds, and we wish Niall Iain every success throughout his journey.”

A satellite phone will be Mr Macdonald’s main communication with the outside world during the challenge.

His website will be updated regularly and the boat has a tracking system so visitors to the website can follow his daily progress.


Transatlantic rower hopes bid is third time lucky