Redefining disability – one man and his mission


9th January 2019, Portimao, Portugal: One man is on a personal mission to challenge the perceptions around disabilities. Lee Spencer, a former Royal Marine, will become the world’s first physically disabled person to row solo and unsupported from mainland Europe to mainland America for a new Guinness World Record, leaving from Portimao, Portugal ‪on January 7th 2019.

Lee, also known as The Rowing Marine, is also attempting to beat the current able-bodied record of 96 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes, gaining a second Guinness World Record during his crossing. Stroke by stroke Lee will be challenging the definition of disability as he rows the 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Cayenne, French Guiana.

Lee was born in Dagenham, lives in Devon, but made in the Royal Marine’s. Despite surviving 24 years as a Marine and three tours of Afghanistan, Lee lost his right leg when he stopped to help a motorist on the M3 in 2014. He was hit by flying debris as he made his way to the stricken vehicle and his right leg was severed in the impact.

Just a year later Lee set-off to row the Atlantic Ocean in 2015 in a team of four injured veterans, Row2Recovery. The team became the first British military all-amputee team of four to row an ocean. This was the beginning of Lee rediscovering who he was, refusing to be defined by disability. Lee commented:

“I don’t believe anyone should be defined by something they can’t do or their limitations. It’s about rediscovering who you are, not redefining who you are and being labelled. I feel passionately about raising awareness of this and challenging these preconceptions. Disabilities vary and they aren’t just physical. I hope to inspire all those who seek to rediscover themselves and raise funds for two very worthy charities who have supported and inspired me.”

During this feat of physical and mental endurance, Lee will battle 40 foot waves in a seven metre long ocean rowing boat. Suffering from sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue, sea-sickness, fear and solitude Lee will be out of helicopter range and totally unsupported on the water.

Lee feels passionately about keeping wounded servicemen and women at the forefront of people’s minds alongside challenging the embedded preconceptions that impact all those with disabilities.The double Guinness World Record attempt will raise awareness and money for the Royal Marines Charity and the Endeavour Fund, which supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.

Further information can be found at www.leespencer.co.uk. For donations please visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LeeJSpencer. Follow the conversation via #NotDefinedByDisability

For footage of Lee’s departure, please follow these links:

Link 1: B-roll


Link 2: Interview