Major Mick, 80, bids to row homemade Tintanic boat 100 miles for charity

Michael Stanley, also known as ‘Major Mick’, 80, rows along the Chichester canal, West Sussex (PA Wire)
9:27am, Sun 18 Oct 2020
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An 80-year-old retired Army major has embarked on a 100-mile charity challenge travelling at 2mph in his home-made boat.

Michael Stanley, who served in The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for 35 years, created the boat, named the Tintanic out of two sheets of corrugated iron, curtain hooks and hosepipe.

He has set himself the target of rowing it 100 miles along the Chichester canal in West Sussex.

The veteran, known as Major Mick, had aimed to raise £1,000 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Bosham but has already surpassed £8,000.

Mr Stanley said he had been inspired to make the boat during lockdown after a recent visit to India, where he saw the tin boats used.

Michael Stanley, also known as ‘Major Mick’, sets off from Hunston, West Sussex, to row along the Chichester canal (PA Wire)
Michael Stanley rows along the Chichester canal in his home-made rowing boat (PA Wire)

He told the PA news agency: “I got two sheets of corrugated iron, put them together and tried to make them float.

“The initial attempts were not good because it wasn’t stable and I was tipped into the sea twice and had total immersion.

“Then I developed the buoyancy fenders on both sides and it’s now reasonably stable, the only slight problem is when I get in and out, but I think I have mastered it now.”

Mr Stanley said his only luxury onboard was his wife’s garden kneeling pad, and added: “It’s how I imagine sitting in a Rolls-Royce.”

Describing the reactions from passers-by, he added: “My reward is seeing people’s faces, and what they are thinking I don’t mind as long as it puts a smile on their faces, as in these times we need something to smile about.

“I have been called all sorts of things, Merry Major, Legend, Awesome, Mad Major, some woman said ‘I love you sir’ which is a bit over the top.

Michael Stanley uses a net to collect donations from members of the public at the half way point in Chichester Basin (PA Wire)
Tintanic charity challenge (PA Wire)

“The most telling comment is the teenagers who said ‘That’s really cool’. For an 80-year-old to be called cool by a teenager is something special.

“It’s fun and I really enjoy it and the generosity of the general public is wonderful, we have such nasty news but at its core it’s a fantastic country.”

Alex Burch, St Wilfrid’s Hospice community fundraising manager, said: “We are very proud so many people like Major Mick are willing to get active for St Wilfrid’s, finding new and exciting ways to support end-of-life care in their local community. Thank you, Major Mick, stay safe and dry on your voyages.”

Mr Stanley, from Chichester, is completing his 100-mile journey in stages going back and forth on the Chichester canal with the aim of completing the challenge by December 18.

To support him, visit:

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