Million Metre Row raises over £5k to help with loneliness

Million metre row

The Million Metre Row fundraiser event - which took place at the Raw Inc training gym in Hornchurch - has raised £5,000 for Communi-Tea Circle. - Credit: Katie Heaphy

Gym-goers rowed around the clock for a full 24 hours in a charity challenge which saw them rack up more than a million metres in total.

Last week, a group of rowing enthusiasts gathered at the Raw Inc training gym in Hornchurch to take part in the Million Metre Row.

Starting from 12pm on September 24, the machines did not stop for a full 24 hours.

The outcome? The group rowed just over 1.3 million metres and raised £5,200.

Million metre row

A rower gets put through his paces as the group work toward their collective target of rowing for 24 hours straight. - Credit: Sarah Kersey

Every penny has been donated to Communi-Tea Circle, a charity which works to combat loneliness in Hornchurch, Upminster and Cranham.

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Founder Phil Nankivell said it aims to “give relief to isolation”.

"This funding allows us to run our first event in Hornchurch on [October] 16. 

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"Communi-Tea Circle was meant to launch before the pandemic, but everything was put back."

Phil - himself a member of the Raw Inc gym - was inspired to start his own charity after four fruitful years volunteering with another organisation.

Local rowing fundraising

To keep spirits high, there was a DJ and local food deliveries for the rowers. - Credit: Sarah Kersey

Covid-19 delayed those plans, and served only to compound the issue of loneliness - particularly among the elderly.

This is something Phil is all too aware of: "The problems that our members experience have definitely been exacerbated by coronavirus.

"A few of them suffer from dementia, so spending a lot of time alone - as many did - is really detrimental.”

Communi-Tea Circle is now working with around 40 people, though the founder is keen for more service users to come on board.

Million metre row

Two rowers pleased by playing their part in this important community fundraiser. - Credit: Sarah Kersey

He hopes there will be enough funding to expand beyond the three areas, with Phil keen to also help those who live further afield.

He's also grateful to Tom and Chloe White, who agreed to run the fundraiser out of their gym.

Though difficult, the owner enthused about the atmosphere on the night.

Tom said: "It was hard, but everyone was really positive. When you’re struggling at 3am and people are singing your name it keeps you going. Even in the middle of the night we were buzzing!"

Million metre row

By the end of the challenge, the group had collectively managed to row over one million metres. - Credit: Sarah Kersey

With the official launch just over two weeks away, Phil feels fortunate to have local support: "There is a lot of will out there to give back to our community. It's brilliant to see."

Refer someone to the service, find out more information or volunteer by contacting Phil at

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