Cancer centre inspiration for Yorkshire mums aiming to become the oldest group to row the Atlantic

Frances Davies, Helen Butters, Niki Doeg, and Janette Benaddi are taking on a mammoth rowing challenge. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Frances Davies, Helen Butters, Niki Doeg, and Janette Benaddi are taking on a mammoth rowing challenge. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Have your say

When the waves get rough, the team of Yorkshire working mums bidding to become the oldest to row any ocean will have added motivation next month.

With just a fortnight to go until the Yorkshire Rows quartet jet off to La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, ahead of the start of their mammoth 3,000-mile Atlantic rowing challenge the group visited a cancer centre they are hoping to help bring to Yorkshire.

Janette Benaddi, Helen Butters and Niki Doeg – three of the four-woman team set to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – stopped by at the Maggie’s Newcastle cancer support centre at the city’s Freeman Hospital last week.

The group’s epic rowing challenge will benefit Maggie’s, which is bidding to build a similar centre for Yorkshire at Leeds St James’s Hospital, as well as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Landmark plans for the £5million Maggie’s Yorkshire, designed by the acclaimed Heatherwick Studio, were approved by Leeds City Council earlier this year. It could open to offer walk-in cancer support in 2017.

Helen, 45, who works for the NHS in Leeds, said: “In Leeds there is a real gap. My experience was if there was a Maggie’s in Leeds my dad’s end of life experience would have been so much better.

“There is great medical care but there is not this and that’s why we want to raise money and bring this to Leeds.”

The Yorkshire Rows team, which also includes Frances Davies, are all working mums who only started rowing four years ago.

Having rowed the North Sea, a mere 120 miles in comparison, earlier this year the group will start their challenge on December 15. It could take five to 10 weeks of two hours on, two hours off rowing shifts.

Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee said: “The team’s fundraising efforts will make a huge difference in helping us to build the new centre at St James’s University Hospital where we will provide a free high quality programme of support.”

Back the team

The Yorkshire Rows hope to have the start of their challenge televised live on BBC Breakfast next month.

The race, involving 26 teams, starts in La Gomera and finishes in Antigua.

The group’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge journey is documented online at, and @yorkshirerows on Twitter.

Bettys received nearly 100 applications overnight for a taste-tester to try out its new menu...

Nearly 100 applications to be Bettys taste-tester received 'overnight'