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Portishead couple row length of English Channel to raise money for Trussel Trust during coronavirus crisis

The pair are making sure their training for the now-cancelled World Gig Championships doesn't go to waste. Credit: Bella Wilson

A couple from the West Country will be rowing the English Channel to raise money for the Trussel Trust - on a rowing machine in their living room.

Bella Wilson and Sam Charman are making use of their time staying at home during the coronavirus lockdown to support the food bank charity.

The pair row for Portishead Pilot Gig Club, and had been in training for the World Championships in the Isles of Scilly in May.

The couple row for Portishead Gig Club in Somerset. Credit: Bella Wilson

When it was announced that the competition was cancelled to slow the spread of coronavirus, the couple got their heads together to come up with a way to make sure their hard work hadn't gone to waste.

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32-year-old Bella is a teacher at Broadoak Academy in Weston-super-Mare, and says that having first-hand experience of helping families in need inspired her to take on the challenge. She is still working with the school, delivering free school meals to those struggling during the crisis.

As a teacher, you deal with a lot of vulnerable families.

You deal with a lot of families that sometimes need to attend food banks to sadly get some food.

I thought the best thing to do during this crisis, with lots more people turning to food banks that wouldn't normally, and the people that normally are needing it even more at the moment, we want to raise as much money as possible so it can go back to the Trussel Trust and back into areas that really need it at the moment.

– Bella Wilson
Sam recently won male rower of the year for his club. Credit: Bella Wilson

The pair hope to complete the 33km row in about three hours, taking turns on the machine to reach the finish line.

Sam, who recently won male rower of the year for his Portishead club, says the challenges they'll face during the domestic row will be less physically demanding but will probably take more of a mental toll.

You've got the scenery of the Cornish coast, then to the scenery of a balcony looking into some trees. So yeah, slightly different.

– Sam Charman