BGL: Row The Thames Challenge

44 employees toke part in a gruelling rowing challenge from Bray to Putney Bridge to raise £45,000 for charity.

“The challenge and the training leading up to it was a huge success with a number of people achieving something they thought impossible at the outset. I was delighted with how the day went, thanks to the planning, organisation and enthusiasm from 12 Degrees. The teams looked relaxed and professional as they rowed down the river – to my untrained eye of course!” - Matthew Donaldson, Chief Executive Officer

The Brief

To create an event that:
  Promoted team bonding and employee wellbeing
Would maximise fundraising potential - aim to raise £30,000 for their designated charity
Fulfilled their CSR goals
Had a fun atmosphere
One that non-participating colleagues could engage in, follow and support
Families and friends able to support them on the day
A new Charity concept that had not been tried before

The Solution

12 Degrees came up with the winning Charity Rowing Challenge concept for the Executive Board and 38 selected employee’s to row in four man teams a 66 km stretch of the River Thames in a single day.

Planned and delivered a training schedule for the rowers
Secured Carla Devlin, former Beijing Olympic rower to act as coach and mentor throughout the challenge.
Sourced professional rowers as coaches and cox's for each leg
Planned the route & itinerary
Liaised with Port authorities
Risk Assessment and Safety Procedures
Pre event route and safety briefing
Provided support vessel, shore crew and transport
Sourced and booked venue for end of event BBQ


The BGL Challenge took place on Saturday 26 April 2014, an 11-hour journey, which would take the rowers past famous landmarks including Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens. Challengers took turns to row and negotiate locks, in a four man coxed boat cheered on by families and friends along the route and from the support vessel.

Conditions on the day were challenging, due to heavy rainfall in the days running up to the event and the Thames had risen seven inches overnight, this also caused a few of the sections to be quite choppy.  The rowers took the conditions completely in their stride armed with the confidence gained from the training. The sun came out and the team crossed the finish line in Putney, ahead of time where they celebrated their amazing achievement with a BBQ at the London Rowing Club.

12 Degrees were so proud of the rowers who were all novices at the start of the training; this was a huge personal and team challenge which involved a lot of commitment on their part. After the months of training and the day itself their perseverance and hard work certainly paid off in the end with an extra £10,000 raised for charity ahead of their original target of £30,000 - an achievement they will never forget and we had the pleasure and honor to be part of.

“What an amazing day! Pulling together to make it through the wind and waves for the final push into London Rowing Club is something I’ll never forget. It was so rewarding to be part of this team effort to row 66 km together and raise so much money for Zambia in the process. I now have the rowing bug and I’m keen to continue using my newfound skills. Bring on the next challenge!” Louisa Roberts, BGL employee and rower,

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you run a Rowing Charity Challenge for your organization