we are two ordinary people trying to take on the extraordinary

The Rowing Team

John Wilson

Born in The Royal Victoria hospital Folkestone I’m the middle child of three, part of my time growing up was spent in Australia as a ten pound pom. I had a great childhood which always had sport at the forefront. Left school with just enough qualifications to become an electrician and from there I went on to run my own business for 20 years in the Shepway area with a workforce of up to 30 employee’s. I’ve been happily married for 35 years with three grown up children and three grandchildren with another on the way!

In my early years competitive swimming was a big feature as was water polo with success up to county level. Introduced to the ergo indoor rowing machine during gym sessions where I felt an instant passion for it and racing on it. I have had much success with this at national level including reaching the top 50 lightweight rowers in the country. I still compete and set records (with Rick) after 10 years on the ergo. Open water swimming takes up the summer months for me with as many races as possible.

Why am I doing this?

The simple answer is Rick asked me. He is someone with great determination and grit, surrounded by a team with similar values, why wouldn’t I say yes? I’m beginning to look down the runway again as I did on my first solo pilots flight with excitement as we head into the unknown. It’s time for a new challenge!

Ricky Reina

I grew up in a council house in Brabner Close Folkestone. Although it was tough, I had the best possible childhood! At times, it was a struggle as my mum raised me single handily with almost nothing.

From a young age, I had spirit and was know as a little bit of a cheeky lad. I always achieve whatever I set out to do. I remember that we had a sit up competition at our under 12’s football presentation. By the time it was my turn the record was about 60 sit ups….I remember getting to 1000…my appetite to win was insatiable from playing professional football (despite not starting my adult playing career until I was 19 years old) and Rowing the channel to running my own successful business- Reina Group was set up 14 years ago during the week  my first son Thomas was born in 2003.

Today we look after 60+ full time staff and turnover circa 8 million. I like to be passionate and committed in whatever I do and throw myself at it guns blazing. I (and John) recently set 2 world records for indoor endurance rowing on a concept 2 the quickest million meters and the longest tandem row 3 days 18 hours. The reason I got into rowing was that 2 years ago I had a knee replacement following 12 operations in successive years it was time……I remember the surgeon telling me you are going to need a complete new knee so you best get used to golf lad…..so I found a surgeon who specialised in partial knee replacements hey presto! 2 world records later no golf!

So why am I doing this…..Because I can. My philosophy is Make a difference when you finally depart from this life, don’t go with a whimper. I want people to turn around and say “wow he made a difference” and he will be missed! I would love to inspire people into believing in themselves no matter what cards you are dealt at the beginning, you can always make a better hand…you just need to believe you can do it and want it enough! Make a difference!

The Team

James Osborne

Kim Gardiner

Paul Carney

Alison Carney

Charlotte Reina

Gareth Coombes-Olney

Louise Hook

Alan Hook