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WaterAid honour for Lochinver's solo rower

By Mike Merritt

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Duncan Hutchison has been honoured by WaterAid.
Duncan Hutchison has been honoured by WaterAid.

An adventurous Lochinver man who attempted a fundraising solo row of the Atlantic in a home-made boat, has received royal recognition.

Duncan Hutchison (54) has been awarded the President’s Award by WaterAid.

It is the highest honour that the charity can give and is acknowledged and signed by WaterAid’s president - Prince Charles.

WaterAid has said that he is a “worthy champion”.

Mr Hutchison raised more than £30,000 during his crisis-ridden row from New York last June.The money could help WaterAid give access to clean water to 1500 people.

He said: “I’m honoured to receive the award and grateful that my adventures have made a difference to people’s lives by helping provide them with their basic human rights of water, toilets and good hygiene.

“It was an incredible experience for me and a challenge that proves that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they really want to.”

The President’s Award was due to be handed over to Mr Hutchison at a WaterAid’s Supporters Day in London but he was unable to make the event and instead received it by post. The charity said the award was announced on the day.

Mr Hutchison, a rope access technician, was at sea for 100 days and survived mountainous waves, storms and even a shark attacking his clinker-style skiff, Sleipnir. He had to be rescued twice.

Just four days after setting off from New York a fierce storm struck, leading to his first rescue by US Coastguards and the loss of Sleipnir which later turned up in New Jersey.

He manfully kept going but his hopes of rowing into Lochinver on the day of the port’s Highland Gathering were dashed.

And, just 863 miles from Land’s End, he had to admit defeat after his on-board electrics failed.

The former lifeboat man and father-of-three was rescued by a tanker an his boat was lost as sea after its tow rope broke. It later washed ashore in Norway and was shipped back to Lochinver.

He now intends to make the boat seaworthy again.

Tim Wainwright, chief executive at WaterAid said: “We were all really inspired by the time, effort and danger Duncan put himself in to tackle one of the world’s most challenging oceans while raising money for WaterAid as well as vital awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis.

“There was no question that Duncan is a worthy President’s Award champion.”

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