Sacrificing a day so we don’t Sacrifice more – LUBC’s 24-hour row for PAPYRUS


Lancaster University Boat Club (LUBC) are preparing for their colossal charitable coup: the 24-hour row for the charity ‘PAPYRUS’ to aid the prevention of suicide. This is following the Swimming and Water Polo Club’s 15-hour swim for ‘Mind’ (a charity providing support and/or resources to those who are suffering from mental health-related issues) raising a fantastic £1,870.

Perhaps less well-known than mental health charity ‘Mind’, PAPYRUS is a national organisation dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. PAPYRUS was founded in 1997 by a mother, Jean Kerr, from Lancashire following the loss of her son to suicide and was initially set up as the Parents’ Association for the Prevention of Young Suicide, hence the name PAPYRUS.

Suicide is the biggest killer of both male and females under the age of 35 (killing 6,507 in 2018) This is a figure increasing in the last year and this shows the harsh reality that more than 17 people a day take their own lives in the UK.

PAPYRUS’ ‘Hopeline’ can be contacted 7 days a week on 0800 068 41 41 for any advice or help relating to self-harm and suicide in young people.

Last year, LUBC’s annual 24-hour row (which was completed on the Concept2 rowing machine) raised £1,899 for PAPYRUS – with the members braving freezing winds and sleet. This figure larger even than the boat club of Mansfield College Oxford on their 24-hour erg raising £1,742.

However, rowers always have more to give, so LUBC did it again two months later in March 2019, attempting to break two world records and two British records, raising a further £1,320.  

With over 50 more members than last year, LUBC is hoping for a dramatic increase in donation. On average the human body burns 600 calories per hour whilst rowing, using all the main muscle groups in the body. Every stroke requires the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, obliques, pectorals, biceps, triceps, deltoids, and upper back, making it one of the most physically demanding and strenuous sporting activities.

Leading the event will be the LUBC Club Captain Nathan Lingham, who currently holds a British record for the 24-hour erg in the ‘Small Male Group’ category – his record had him rowing 378, 827 meters (not much less than the distance from London to Newcastle)  with his team of four in just a single day.

Speaking to the SCAN about LUBC’s seemly gargantuan undertaking, Lingham (jokingly described as an ‘ergathon’) said that, “PAPYRUS is a charity that aims to prevent suicide among young people, including those around university age. So, we couldn’t think of a better charity to raise money for!”

He continued to say that, “Rowing is fundamentally a team sport, and the nature of the club is very inclusive and like one big family, and that’s why, together, I think this family can support an amazing charity like PAPYRUS!”

The idea of sport being linked to mental well-being is a growing and important area of medical research. In fact, according to recent studies, there is even some evidence that sports events can reduce the rates of suicide on the societal level, and behavioural activation is often used in conjunction with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) nowadays as a way to treat depression and reduce suicide risks.

According to research from the University of Vermont, sport reduces suicide attempts in bullied teens by almost a quarter. In the UK, examples of poor mental wellbeing are not just evident, they’re striking. It’s estimated that a third of British children have suicidal thoughts, a truly worrying figure.

Research has also shown that 29% of young British adults deliberately harmed themselves as teenagers. And more than one in ten (12 %) felt like a failure almost every day when they were under 16.

Issues around anxiety, stress and body image lead to poor emotional wellbeing, leaving children less able to cope. Unchecked, this can spiral into acute, long-term mental illness, says the report, ‘Alone with my Thoughts’. Now, more than ever, we must invest in the belief of sports teams. Here young people are part of a supportive community – a necessity for combatting the UK’s suicide crisis.

This year as with the last, it expected that a small portion of the money raised will go towards the funding of LUBC. Despite Lingham’s squad consistently performing to an exceptional standard (recently achieving 9th place in the country during the 2020 British University and College Sport Head of the Tyne) LUBC remains one of the lowest funded university boat clubs in the country. LUBC is in desperate need of replacing its fleet they wish to compete at such an elite level.

The 2019 challenge was a dramatic success, which built upon the massive improvements in the club over the last few years. But to continue these successes, additional funding is needed to ensure the best equipment and facilities are available to give the athletes the edge that they deserve: somehow, the formidable rowing diet isn’t enough!

Details of this year’s ergathon will be up and coming on the LUBC Facebook page and all readers are encouraged to donate as well as become more aware of the prevalent issue of suicide in young people.

If you or someone you know is finding it hard to cope and needs advice or support, then contact PAPYRUS on 0800 068 41 41 or contact the Samaritans on their 24/7 line 116 123.

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