Frank Rothwell finishes solo Atlantic row becoming oldest man to complete crossing

Frank Rothwell has become the oldest man to row solo across the Atlantic. Credit: Alzheimer's Research

A grandfather has become the oldest man to complete a solo row across the Atlantic - completing the journey in 56 days.

Frank Rothwell, 70, undertook the massive 3,000 challenge from Tenerife to Antigua, to raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK.

The fundraiser from Oldham set off on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge on 12 December, and had planned to reach the Caribbean island on Valentine's Day, to reunite with his wife Julie.

But incredibly Frank finished more than a week ahead of schedule, on 6 February, and could be heard shouting out for his wife as he crossed the line.

He added: "It took six long weeks to row the Atlantic, but the challenge itself has taken over 18 months of training and preparation, so I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and the unbelievable journey I’ve been on."

  • Warning: video contains strong language

Credit: Atlantic Campaigns

Frank was one of just eight solo rowers competing in the competition, known as the world's toughest row, and came in 18th place - making him the oldest to ever take part.

The adventurer, who has sailed the Atlantic three times, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, spent the 56 days at sea in a boat named 'Never Too Old'.

He carries his own food and supplies through the journey, making the boat weigh around half a tonne.

Before he set off he said: "It will be tough, but my motto is 'you're never too old!'"

Frank has so far raised more than £640,000 for Alzheimer's UK - more than any other contestant has ever raised - but hopes to make it to £1 million.

Frank decided to take on the challenge for Alzheimer's after witnessing the devastating impact of dementia on his brother-in-law Roger, who sadly passed away at the age of 62 during his challenge.

He added: "Rowing for the charity was my main motivation for crossing the finish line.

"While rowing, I received heartbreaking messages from people who have had similar experiences to my own, with my brother-in-law, Roger, so I hope I’ve helped other families in some way too.

"I’d like to thank everyone who has reached into their pockets and donated, having the support from so many means the world to me. Thank you."

The funeral is on hold for Frank’s return home and the family is accepting donations in lieu of flowers. 

To donate you can click here.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "We’re incredibly moved by Frank’s determination to raise £1 million for dementia research.

"By taking on such a monumental challenge at 70 years old, he has helped to spread awareness and inspired people of all ages to take on their own challenges.

"To bring about life-changing treatments for dementia, fundraising efforts from ordinary people like Frank and his supporters provides a crucial lifeline to the progression of our research.

"We will always be thankful to Frank for doing so much to support Alzheimer’s Research UK during this time and we hope he enjoys a well-earned rest!"

Frank completed his challenge in 56 days - well under the 60 to 90 he had predicted. Credit: Atlantic Campaigns