British Empire Medal for rowing former Royal Marine

A former Royal Marine who holds the world record for the fastest unsupported row across the Atlantic has described receiving a British Empire Medal as “the icing on the cake”.

Earlier this year Lee Spencer, 50, who lost his leg in an accident, crossed from mainland Europe to South America in 60 days, breaking the able-bodied record for the route by 36 days.

Mr Spencer, from Tavistock, Devon, became the first disabled person to row from continent to continent, breaking two world records and raising more than £90,000 for charity.

Lee Spencer was part of the Row2Recovery team that rowed across the Atlantic in 2015
Lee Spencer was part of the Row2Recovery team that rowed across the Atlantic in 2015

He has previously rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic as part of the Row2Recovery team, and next year is part of a team kayaking the Amazon.

In 2021 he will attempt a solo British triathlon of swimming the English Channel, cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and running a marathon across Ben Nevis.

Mr Spencer, who was born in Dagenham, served for 24 years in the Royal Marines, coming through three tours of Afghanistan unscathed.

In 2014 he lost his right leg after being hit by flying debris while helping a motorist who had crashed into the central reservation of the M3 in Surrey.

He receives the British Empire Medal for charitable fundraising.

“When I found out, it was shock, because I didn’t know I had been nominated,” he said.

“It’s a nice surprise. When you are rowing out there on your own, you don’t really know if anyone is following.

“You get told that you’re in the news, but you don’t really know if anyone really cares. To get the award is really quite nice.”

Mr Spencer added: “I’ve had three wonderful things happen to me this year.

“I got a personal letter from Prince Harry, I’m in the Guinness Book of Records – and anyone who grew up with Roy Castle and Record Breakers knows what that means and to be in it is unbelievable – and this is the icing on the cake.”