Peterborough blind rower raises nearly £2000 with 20k solo row

A Peterborough woman has raised nearly £2000 after rowing 20k single-handedly, despite being unable to see.

Kate and coach Pete Forrest
Kate and coach Pete Forrest

Kate Lindgren took up the challenge to raise money for Peterborough City Rowing Club as a thank you for their help in getting her on the water.

Kate joined the club three years ago, just after her 50th birthday, after being inspired to take up the sport while out on a walk along the River Nene with her daughter and guide dog. A rowing boat passed by with eight rowers all older than Kate and that gave her the spark she needed.

She started out in multi-handed boats but quickly took the remarkable step of going solo- using technology to communicate with her coach, Pete Forrest, from the river bank, to help with directions and timing.

Kate Lindgren at the Peterborough Telegraph Sports Awards 2019 at the Holiday Inn. She was nominated for Disabled Achiever of the Year

Kate’s achievements are all the more remarkable when you consider the fact she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when she was a teenager. The condition - which has no cure- led to her gradually losing her sight to the point where she now only has some light perception.

She said: “The group has been so friendly and encouraging and the coaches have made the experience of rowing fun and comfortable. The dedication of my volunteer coach and guide to ride his bicycle or drive the safety launch on the river to navigate me has been totally inspiring and outstanding.

“I feel such a sense of achievement in rowing so far and in such tough conditions. My mental health is more positive than when I started and I am always looking for something new with which to challenge myself. ”

The latest challenge Kate, who was nominated for a Peterborough Telegraph Sports award last year, set for herself has seen her row solo for 20 kilometres in a fine single racing boat. There have been multiple delays, due to lockdown, but last month (September 24) Kate, with the assistance of coach Pete, covered the 20k distance between the rowing club in Thorpe Meadows to the Dog in a Doublet pub, at North Side, Thorney, and back.

Visually impaired sculler Kate Lindgren at Peterborough City Rowing club course at Thorpe Meadows. EMN-181217-153459009

The pair set off at 8:35am and arrived at the pub at around 9:50. Kate would have to battle difficult conditions on the return journey, as well as a loss of communications, which meant that Pete had to shout from the bank so she could safely stop whilst the phones were reconnected but managed to make it safely back to the club for 11:30am. In completing the feat, Kate has so far raised £1700.

Kate said: “In July 2019, I asked my coach for a 2020 goal and he suggested that I aim to row blind and solo in a fine single for 20k on the Nene. Having never rowed more than 6k on the rowing lake, I knew this was going to be a difficult challenge.

“I had a couple of short outings on the river this time last year and then had to resort to indoor training as flooding took over. We had just done a couple of outings on the river in March and then lockdown hit. We had set a date for May but finally got back on the lake in July and then in September we tried a short trip on the river and I was quite anxious that the 20k challenge was more than I could achieve. “On September 24, however, with what looked to be fine weather, we set out but with no plan to row to The Dog, as it is fondly referred to at the rowing club. We made it to Millenium Bridge and, with the thought that at any time we could be locked down again, I decided to see how far I could get and managed to make it to The Dog.

“I hadn’t anticipated the awful conditions I would have to battle for the 10k return trip but just kept on rowing. There was no other choice as if I stopped I was just going to be blown backwards.

“At times, if Pete had not encouraged me to continue rowing I am sure I would have ended up back at The Dog. Until I completed the challenge, I had thought that many members of the club regularly rowed that distance but I now realise that is not the case.

“I am pleased to have raised funds for the club as rowing for me has proved how an activity and especially an outdoor one is beneficial for positive mental health and fitness. Many local clubs, like businesses, are facing financial difficulties at this time so I am glad that in some small way I have raised some much needed funds.”

Kate has set up a challenge JustGiving page for the challenge that can be viewed at justgiving.com/fundraising/kate-lindgren.