Army veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan makes rowing history with military mate


An army veteran and Invictus Games gold medallist who had a leg blown off while serving in Afghanistan has rowed his name into the record books.

Jordan Beecher, a former Lance Corporal in the Parachute Regiment, defied life-changing injury to link up with his friend, Captain Jon Armstrong, to become the fastest pair to complete an Atlantic crossing.

They pulled into Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua, the Caribbean, 37 days, eight hours and eight minutes after leaving La Gomera in the Canary Islands for the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, dubbed the world's toughest rowing race.

The pair, who first met in the back of a Land Rover as new recruit Paratroopers on a military exercise on Salisbury Plain, braved 40ft waves, pressure sores and hallucinations to complete the 3,000-mile journey

The Row2Recovery team shaved almost whole three days off the previous record.

Speaking as they took their first steps on dry land in more than a month, L/Cpl Beecher, 29, from St Albans, credited their team spirit with helping them get through the race.

He said: "I found out in the first week that Jon doesn't like rowing in the dark, and seeing Jon going out in the dark every night and having the courage to do it even though he didn't like it, that was a big thing for me.

"Today my leg has fused - it's now useless. But it lasted until today. When I was blown up, for the first few months I was on loads of drugs so I don't really remember it.

"This (the race) was very different. The hardest bit was getting to the start line. Raising the money, finding the sponsors and the pieces of boat, deciding on tactics. That was hard. But when you got to the start line you realised everyone was in the same boat."

Capt Armstrong, 31, who is based at Sandhurst, said: "We were brothers before we started this race, and now we're closer, if that's even possible.

"It's come down to intense preparation and discipline, taking every single detail into consideration and it's great to have completed this adventure with Jordan by my side."

Row2Recovery raised more than £100,000 for their charities -  Blesma (The British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association), The Royal Gurkha Rifles Operational Fund and children's cause Dreamflight.

The team finished just two hours ahead of London-based Oxford graduates Oardinary Boys, Oliver Glanville, 22, George Randell, 23, who became the youngest pair to compete in the race.

Mr Glanville said: "It was really tough, and we did even better than we thought we could have. I had a lot of hallucinations out there as a result of sleep deprivation which I had to cope with alongside being battered by waves all the time when we were rowing."

The overall race winners, British quartet the Four Oarsmen, crossed the line in 29 days.