My boat will go on – charity hero Major Mick returns to the water in Tintanic II

A retired Army major who raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity rowing his home-made tin boat, the Tintanic, is now taking part in a sequel challenge.

“Major Mick” Michael Stanley completed 100 miles rowing at 2mph twice a week along the Chichester Canal in December 2020.

Now the 80-year-old, who sold the boat for £480 for charity, is back on the water in his new and improved boat, named the Tintanic II.

And this time he will not be limited to calm canal waters but will also be setting off on rivers and open water across England, Wales and Scotland.

He aims to row another 100 miles in 20 locations around the country, including the Regent’s Canal in London and Cardiff in Wales, then heading as far north as Loch Ness and Aberdeenshire in Scotland before finishing in the south of England in September.

‘Major Mick’ sets off along Beaulieu River in Hampshire
‘Major Mick’ sets off along Beaulieu River in Hampshire (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mr Stanley began the challenge in Chichester before moving on to Beaulieu in the New Forest, where he was waved off by Lord Montagu, founder of the National Motor Museum.

He told the PA news agency: “What bliss Beaulieu is and what a lovely place, and aren’t we lucky there are these pockets of beautiful scenery and tranquility for us all to enjoy? It’s a wonderful place.”

Mr Stanley, who served in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards for 35 years, used his previous venture to raise £44,000 for the St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Bosham, West Sussex, and is now collecting funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Lord Montagu said: “He’s a classic British eccentric but an ingenious one and he deserves points for creating a very good rowing boat from a very limited number of parts, principally corrugated iron and wood.

“A member of my family is suffering from Alzheimer’s so I understand the importance of raising money for research, but also he’s such an irresistibly appealing person with this little home-made boat so it’s very nice to host him on the Beaulieu river and support his campaign.”

Explaining his reasons for starting his second challenge, Mr Stanley said: “I had such a good time last year, I made a lot of friends, had wonderful conversations with people on the towpath, and having sold the boat and thinking I have nothing else to do … so why not build another boat?”

He said his first boat had a persistent problem with leaks which he hopes to have solved with the new version.

“I started after Christmas making the new boat. I had problems with getting corrugated iron because there was a shortage because of the virus, and I have made the boat and it’s in good order and stronger than the first one, I am happy to say – I have made it easier it to row and to let less water in through the bottom.”

Lord Montagu chats with Michael Stanley
Lord Montagu (right) chats with Michael Stanley (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He continued: “I am excited about the lovely places I am going to. I just had such a lovely time the first time around. I am 80 years old, I enjoy doing it and want to keep busy and at the same time I am raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is a great charity.

“On top of enjoying it, I am also hopefully going to get a bit of money for charity.”

Mr Stanley’s wife, Sally, said: “I am really pleased he is doing something like this because he would be desperate to be at home doing nothing, and he’s loving it and he feels he is doing something really worthwhile.

“He’s always been somebody who has to be doing something, he’s never been someone who sits around watching the telly.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK deputy chief executive Ian Wilson said: “Our vital research is only made possible thanks to our incredible supporters, and we’re so grateful to Major Mick for supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Dementia affects a significant proportion of the population – one in three people over 65 in the UK will die with some form of the condition. Fantastic fundraising efforts like this will help us to make life-changing research breakthroughs for people with dementia.”