Harrogate school boosted by man's adventures on homemade raft

Harrogates intrepid Mark Ward in his homemade raft.
Harrogates intrepid Mark Ward in his homemade raft.

His engine seized up and he nearly got thrown overboard in rough seas but a Harrogate man has completed his charity voyage by homemade raft for a local school.

Intrepid Mark Ward’s single-handed voyage south of York on the River Ouse to Whitby on the North Sea was full of struggles and tests - half the time on a raft built primarily of waste plastic water bottles and plywood in the driveway of his house and the remainder of the trip on a small inflatable dinghy.

Enjoyable at moments, terrifying at other times, Mark, 44, successfully raised more than £2,000 for Richard Taylor Primary School in Bilton by competing 271 kilometres of river, estuary and sea.

Back on dry land, merchant navy officer Mark said: “The worst part of the journey was probably leaving Bridlington harbour. Twenty minutes into the voyage the main engine ground to a stop and was completely overheated. Steam was coming out from under the casing.”

But his setback was not enough to deter the hardy Mark, part of his family roots lie in The Whitby Lifeboat.

This married family man with three children simply swapped the damaged part for a small reserve motor that was basically a modified strimmer motor.

Unsurprisingly the most emotional moment for Mark came at Whitby itself.

He said: “”As I drifted further into Whitby harbour and into calmer water I looked over to the east breakwater and said a little silent salute to my brave distant family member William Tyreman.

“He lost his life with 12 others in that very spot whilst trying to save a stricken ship in the famous 1861 Whitby Lifeboat Disaster.”

Having survived a whole catalogue of other problems, Mark is now planning an even bigger charity challenge - travelling around the entire United Kingdom on a jet ski!

Mark would like to trhank all his many supporters including his father Colin ward, , friends, and family, his work colleagues of MPI Discovery, MPI Offshore, Rock Steady Music- Harrogate, EPSCO Limited, Gibbons International- Teeside, Global Navigation Solitions, PFC Marine, Gardeners Arms landlord and landlady, Humber Rescue, Spurn Point RNLI, Bridlington and Scarborough Harbour Authorities, East Coast, Mark and Lynne Andrews for the use of safety equipment, Nigel Cawthorne and White Cross Ski Club.

If you would like to donate to his cause, find him on his Just Giving page