Pals tackle ‘oar-some’ 12-hour charity rowing challenge

Sean McGuigan and Ian Spedding are taking part in a 12-hour rowing challenge to mark the launch of Hebburn Central.
Sean McGuigan and Ian Spedding are taking part in a 12-hour rowing challenge to mark the launch of Hebburn Central.

A PAIR of record-breaking pals are going the distance for charity – after signing up for an oar-inspiring challenge to mark the opening of a new multi-million pound community centre in South Tyneside.

Police officer Sean McGuigan and friend Ian Spedding, who works for the NHS, will be the first people to use the state-of-the-art fitness suite at Hebburn Central when they take part in a non-stop 12-hour rowing challenge on Monday, June 15.

The marathon effort will be nothing new for the super fit duo, however, as they currently hold the world record for the longest continous stint on a rowing machine – a remarkable 30 hours and 30 minutes.

The row will raise vital funds for St Clare’s Hospice and Alzheimer’s Society North East and serve as valuable preparation for Sean’s bid to complete the arduous North East Atlantic Challenge, which will see him row 3,000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

One lucky member of the public will have the opportunity to win a year’s free leisure membership worth £342 by guessing the distance they row over the 12-hour period.

Mr McGuigan, 44, a neighbourhood sergeant based in Hebburn, said: “I’m really looking forward to being involved in the opening of the new building.

“I will be training there regularly with my local triathlon club so I can’t wait to check out the facilities.

“Ian and I will be alternating on the rower for 30 minutes each over the 12-hour period.

“We will have collection buckets on the day, with all proceeds going to St Clare’s and Alzheimer’s Society North East.”

The ambitious bobbie on the beat aims to raise £100,000 in total by completing the North East Atlantic Challenge.

Training partner Mr Spedding, 40, added: “We’ve been rowing half marathons four times a week to train.

“I was over the moon to be asked to take part in the opening of Hebburn Central and I’m itching to get inside and see it!

“As a local lad, I think this is the best thing to happen to the town in a long time, and will hopefully kick start further regeneration.”

The new facility will be opened by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, and Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Josef Craig, MBE.

The two-storey building includes a six-lane swimming pool, a learner pool with bubble pools, sauna and steam room, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft play area, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms, a customer service centre and an outdoor multi-use games area.

Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “This is a really exciting moment for Hebburn and I think the whole town is going to be proud of this superb new building.

“As well as offering first-class leisure facilties, it will also serve as an important community and social venue which will bring together many different services under one roof.”

Throughout the day, there will be various free class taster sessions on offer, as well as fitness classes and library activities.

The Change4Life team will also be offering free health checks.