Isaac's letters

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motivating letters to support fundraising row

25-year-old Claire describes herself as an old soul, a traditional girl.

Her grandmother spent a lifetime writing letters and Claire has always been intrigued by the romance and mastery of penning thoughts and feelings to a perfumed page; the personal touch of sending carefully folded paper, enveloped and stamped, even sealed in wax, to someone special. A traditional, timeless form of artful communication she feels should be preserved.

“I’m not sure if it will work, but to enhance the letters just that little bit more, I have sprayed each one with a different perfume. I’ve heard pleasant aromas can motivate and stimulate the brain, which in hope, will make each day a little brighter. Today’s perfume - ‘Brit Rhythm’ Aromatic & fresh lavender, orange and iris, by Burberry.”

Isaac is pictured front right and Claire is just behind him.

Isaac is pictured front right and Claire is just behind him.

Claire has a passion for baking and works as a Marketing Communications Manager at a catering company in Abu Dhabi. “We both went to Royal Holloway, University of London, but started talking only after we graduated.  It’s nice to keep in contact and see the amazing things your classmates are doing around the world.”

When Isaac told Claire that he was going to row the Atlantic to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and raise £60K for a world free of MS, she knew she should take the opportunity to help him from afar. “Letters from a friend when you’re enduring the most challenging journey of your life will hopefully bring comfort and motivation. I felt this was a heaven-sent opportunity to help someone through my writing.” And so began the most wonderful story.

Isaac helping to raise awareness and funds for the MS Society and Berkshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in the summer along the Jurassic Coast. The team’s extreme ocean crossing to raise funds for MS inspired Claire to write the letters.

Isaac helping to raise awareness and funds for the MS Society and Berkshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in the summer along the Jurassic Coast. The team’s extreme ocean crossing to raise funds for MS inspired Claire to write the letters.

“I’m writing this letter in a taxi, so please excuse my handwriting… so you want to reminisce, I thought what better way than to show our first and possibly only photo together (sad face emoji goes here), but you know what… I actually remember a lot about this photo. I remember specifically how you changed your position for the photo and came to crouch right in front of me. I must say you look very handsome.”

Claire began writing letters to the team two months before they left. She asked the team the kinds of hardships they would face on the journey, how they would feel at times, and when they would likely need inspiration and encouragement. She wrote until her hand ached. 150 pages of letters, poems, quotations and cards. Letters for when Isaac needs a laugh, motivation, inspiration, a pep talk, courage, for when he feels lonely, and even a card for when he doesn’t feel well.

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Pieces of her heart, beautifully penned. Then, there’s a letter for each day of the row. Starting the 12th December, ending 20th January 2019. She also chose a thoughtful little Christmas gift for the team, and a birthday present for Cameron. And then, instead of posting them, she entrusted this generous package of love to a courier, and asked them to deliver the parcel to Isaac in La Gomera, before his departure.

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Unfortunately this is where this delightful tale is derailed. Isaac’s letters didn’t arrive on the Spanish island. The courier notifications have listed them as “awaiting delivery”.

“If you’re feeling down, pull yourself up! You don’t get anywhere by staying where you were! You have the skills, you have the tenacity. Now get off your ass and go row faster than you ever have before! With all of my heart, I know you have got this! Claire.”

delivery to rowing boat mid-Atlantic?

The thing is, Claire is no ordinary young lady. She isn’t even slightly deterred by the fact that Atlantic Discovery is somewhere in 3,000 miles of open ocean. Far beyond the horizon. Claire is committed to getting the letters to Isaac and nothing is going to stop her trying to make it happen.

Claire is confident that the letters are going to reach the Atlantic Discovery team and motivate them to complete the row and raise the vital funds for their chosen MS charities.

Claire is confident that the letters are going to reach the Atlantic Discovery team and motivate them to complete the row and raise the vital funds for their chosen MS charities.

She rang up the courier company and stood firm that they find and deliver her package.

“How’s the team doing? Have you had the time to ask how you all are feeling, how their day is and if anyone needs anything? I’m sure you’re taking good care of each other and really pulling together for the final 10 days!”

For now, we wait to hear from the company. Cameron missed getting his birthday gift, it’s unlikely the team will receive their Christmas gift in time, and they’ve just all rowed through what must be the toughest 12 days of their lives. But the letters were written with love and care, and may still help Isaac and his team mates on their journey of a lifetime. Just as soon as they are delivered.

“I wonder what a beautiful sight you must have at night with zero light pollution and without noise if you really wanted to. Now that’s an experience I’m hoping to have one day. Although I have so many priceless memories camping with friends in the peaceful desert of Abu Dhabi. The stars at night in the desert are a sight to see!

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So, what is the feasibility of delivering a package to Atlantic Discovery? Tracking the vessel isn’t a problem. The team would need to switch on their AIS (automatic identification system) so they can be found on the vessel finder website or, the race tracker is updated every four hours so can give a good idea of where Ellida is situated.

“…the deadline to send your package of these letters is quickly slipping away and my hand feels like it’s about to drop off from writing so much. You can possibly tell from how poor my writing has gotten…”

Finding a craft to reach Ellida could be more tricky. Perhaps a long range helicopter, or aircraft, or a boat to intercept them? Whatever their plans, the courier says they are investigating every option to deliver the package to Isaac and, while they have an extensive land-based network, they don’t have a network at sea. “We are currently exploring all options because we understand the emotion behind this story.”

“Know that you are always in the thoughts of many around the world. Also remember the MS Society and the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre - the beautiful charities you are helping raise so much money for! Remember them and the incredible work you are doing to change the world. Yes, YOU are changing the world through raising money, and raising awareness for MS. God Bless you for your sacrifices and your courage! Lots of love, Claire.”

how will this story unfold?

This level of customer service by the UAE-based courier is absolutely mind blowing. Most of us, and I include myself in this category, would have written the package off as undeliverable. But not Claire. And not the delivery company. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds…

Follow Atlantic Discovery’s journey along the green line. Be part of our story by donating here.

Watch this space @virtualstowaway  Penny Bird is a professional photographer and writer documenting Atlantic Discovery's incredible journey.