Inspirational women

Leaving a job to take on a rowing challenge

I am honoured to share the story of Charlie Cooper aged 21 from Portsmouth. She has rowed for 8 years and is a member of Bexhill Rowing Club. She is part of a team of amazing women taking on the All Systems Row Challenge.


I was born in East Sussex and graduated from the University of Plymouth in 2020. I have recently moved to Portsmouth to start my career as an NHS Physiotherapist which has been quite a challenge after being thrown in the deep end with Covid. This experience has had a
big impact on me and I have become mentally stronger as a result.

I started rowing in the gym when I was 11 with my dad and through competing in several indoor rowing competitions was invited to join Bexhill Rowing Club. Since the first moment I went out in a boat I realised how dull erging is and was desperate to spend as much time on
the water as possible! My proudest moment in a boat was winning at Womens Eights Head of the River Race in my first year at university (I cried!).

I generally love anything outdoors, from sea swimming and paddle-boarding to walks and runs in the countryside. Despite having never participated in a challenge like this before, I’m sure it will be an incredible life experience as well as extremely mentally and physically hard. But nothing worth doing is easy, right?

What led you to begin rowing?

When I was 11 my mum decided her, and my dad need to get fitter and go to the gym. As my sister and I were too young to be left at home we came with! My dad and I used to use the rowing machine a lot and I started entering indoor rowing competitions. Aftera few successful competitions, I was spotted by Bexhill Rowing Club and invited to join.

What made you want to get involved in All Systems Row?

Entering the NHS as a physiotherapist during the pandemic and moving to a completely new city where I knew no one, pushed me mentally and it has taken a lot of resilience to get through it. Following that, I have the desire to see how far I really can push myself. I am also an incredibly competitive person so the opportunity to become a world record holder couldn’t be turned down!

What are you most looking forward to about the adventure?

The scenery! And being able to take on a challenge so far beyond normal life.

What do you think you will find most challenging?

The food! I am very partial to a roast dinner or burger, so ration packs are not something I’m looking forward to. But food is fuel and we’ll need plenty of it!

Who has supported you as you prepare for the challenge?

My family have been a huge support. They have helped this challenge become a reality for me, both financially, with my grandparents being main sponsors of the event, and by being sounding boards when I’ve found things tough, or offering solutions to problems we have had to consider as a team. We have also been very lucky to have Julian Roberts providing support for our crew from a team-working perspective.

What are you hoping to learn?

My limits and how far I really can go when things get tough. Also, how as a team we can work together when we’re tired/hungry/feeling low to pick each other up.

What are you personally giving up to take part?

My time and my job. When I signed up to this challenge, I knew it would be a significant undertaking but I didn’t realise how much of my life the preparation takes up. Some days I’ll leave my house in the morning at 5:45am to go to the gym and sometimes I won’t get back until 8/9pm after working and rowing. I have also had to leave my job to enable me to complete the challenge without strict
time limits and significant loss of annual leave


GB Row Challenge (

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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