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Berkshire widow to row Atlantic Ocean for deceased wife's "amazing" cancer charity

The four men taking-on next year's challenge. Left to right: Ed Smith, Adam Green, Jack Biss, Rob Murray.

A West Berkshire man has started training to row across the Atlantic Ocean, fundraising for the charity that supported his wife before she died of cancer.

Ed Smith, from Thatcham, is tackling the challenge alongside three friends from the Thames Valley region.

His wife Anna was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2017, aged 37. Their daughter Alba was just six months old.

By the time the disease had been identified, it had spread to Anna's liver and lungs.

After receiving treatment at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, she lost her battle with cancer a year later.

Whilst being treated, Anna was supported by the charity Victoria's Promise - which supports young women and their families during what Ed has described as "an awful, awful time".

He told The Breeze about his journey over the last three years:

Image credit: Victoria's Promise and Stephen McGrath.

In December 2021, the 36-year-old will row 3,000 miles - for around 40 consecutive days - to raise money for Victoria's Promise.

After her diagnosis, Anna generated £31,000 of donations for the charity.

Ed called his wife a "remarkable lady". He added: "How she handled herself during the diagnosis was, and still is, truly inspirational.

"One of the last things that Anna ever said to me was: 'Tell Alba she can do whatever she wants'.

"Rowing across the Atlantic is proving to Alba that, if you put your mind to anything, you can achieve whatever you want".

After more than 18 months of preparations, the quartet will start their journey in La Gomera, Canary Islands and finish in Antigua.

They started training on the water last week. Ed insists that he's up for the test: "I think I'm mostly excited rather than nervous. Occasionally I think 'what are we doing, this is mental!'"

"I'm really excited to share an amazing life experience with three great friends. It's something we can talk about for the rest of our lives".

Before Anna's death, Ed was a Firearms Officer in the Thames Valley and Metropolitan Police Forces. He now dedicates his time to fathering Alba and fundraising for Victoria's Promise.

The team's JustGiving page is aiming to raise £100,000.

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