BOLTON Atlantic Challenge rower Mark Brocklehurst has revealed that his inspiration to get him through the epic 3,000 mile journey to Antigua was Nepal plane crash victim Vincent Kelly.

Mr Kelly was supposed to be in the four-man crew but tragically died along with six other British men who were due to climb Everest — but Mr Brocklehurst remembered his best friend as he rowed by reciting his motto: “adapt and overcome.”

Mr Brocklehurst, aged 52, along with Matt Nuttall, aged 44, Nick Griffiths, aged 42, and Finn Christo, aged 32, reached their destination on Sunday after a gruelling eight week voyage across the Atlantic.

Mr Brocklehurst, his wife Tracey, aged 50, and their nine-year-old son Tom, touched down in Manchester Airport yesterday morning after an emotional reunion last week.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “Vinny was was supposed to be doing this with us from the beginning. So when the plane crashed I not only lost my rowing partner but my best friend.

“His motto was ‘adapt and overcome’ and I had that written in front of me on the boat so when I was rowing I could recite it to myself. That’s exactly what we had to do throughout the trip.

“I thought about him each night. He was my inspiration.”

The four men took on the challenge to raise £250,000 to aid a Junior Mentoring Project for Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “I am really glad we’ve done it. I’m not going to lie – it was horrendous at times, but it was worth it for the club.

“I have great memories of the beginning and the end. The horror of it all is starting to ease.”

Mrs Brocklehurst added: “Going out to Antigua to meet Mark has ended this story. I wasn’t looking forward to it at first, but Mark’s sisters came too, so it was like a family holiday. We really got into watching all the boats coming in — we were like rower groupies.

“When Mark came in it was amazing. I’m so proud of him.”

As reported by The Bolton News on Thursday, Mr Christo is back with his family including his pregnant wife Lei, and Matt and Nick were due into Gatwick later on after having their passports stolen.

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