Epic ocean challenge inspires Burnley students to take on the baton to help save the planet

An epic and daring challenge, that also aims to raise awareness of an astronomical problem that is harming the planet, proved to be inspirational to students at Burnley College.

Hundreds gathered to hear about Ocean Revival 2020, the world's most dangerous row that is due to take place in May.

Matt is pictured students at Burnley College next to the boat he will be using with his team mates for the epic rowing challenge.

Matt is pictured students at Burnley College next to the boat he will be using with his team mates for the epic rowing challenge.

A team of four marines, who fought together in Afghanistan, are planning to row from Brooklyn Bridge in New York to Tower Bridge in London, a distance of 3,700 miles, in a high profile bid to raise awareness of how plastic is destroying our oceans.

Only 57 people in history have rowed across the North Atlantic. The crossing has been attempted 72 times with 29 successes and 43 failures. And six people have died taking on the challenge that will follow the same route as the ill fated Titanic.

The 2020 team are aiming to make it into the record books by being the first to complete the row that is statistically the most dangerous and arduous to attempt.

Matt Mason, one of the team, went along to Burnley College with the boat he and his three team mates will tackle the challenge in. And rowing machines were set up in the college to give the students just a taster of what the challenge will be like.

Matt said: "We are fully aware of the enormity of the challenge and it is scary to say the least. Depending on the weather we expect to complete the challenge in 60 days.

"The rowing will be relentless, with two hours on and two hours off, and we could encounter ferocious storms but we are well prepared and have undertaken months of training for this."

Matt said he was delighted that students at Burnley College were keen to know more about the challenge and also the part they can play to reduce plastic in the environment.

He said: "It is refreshing to see this is an issue the next generation is engaged in."

Students and tutors were stunned to hear that around eight million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year, causing havoc with marine life and eco systems.

With single use plastic being a major factor in this pollution Matt made an impassioned appeal for the students to think about their food and drink habits and how they can make a difference.

The college has already ditched plastic cutlery in favour of wooden ones and paper plates have replaced plastic ones also.

Assistant Principal Angela Donovan said the challenge embodied all the principles the college holds dear including a 'sense of adventure, determination, commitment and passion.'

Angela said: "This shows our students that these are values that can take you on epic journeys across the world."

Matt and his team mates are raising money for Plastic Oceans UK, the charity that is campaigning to reduce the use of plastic through science, education and sustainability programmes, and also the Royal Marines charity which supports injured commandos.

So far they have raised around £45,000 and they hope to increase this as they spread the message about the challenge before they set off in May.