On Wednesday 7th March, The Donna Louise revealed two more members of Team Tower to Tower 2018 – Middlesbrough FC Manager Tony Pulis, and former Stoke City FC player, Rory Delap.

The whole team came together for the first time at The Donna Louise to officially launch Tower to Tower 2018.

Tower to Tower 2018 is a unique and gruelling challenge which will see the team cycle, row and walk from Paris to London - this challenge, in this format and following this route, has never been attempted before.

Tony Pulis has supported The Donna Louise for many years, and took part in the last Tower to Tower challenge in 2015. He said, “I think the most difficult thing will be the lack of sleep, going through four days without any kind of continuous sleep. I think I’ll get through the cycle, the boat I’ve got the experience [from last time] but the walk will be tough. You come off the boat to do 60-odd miles – it’s like two marathons.”

Team Tower to Tower includes Tony, Rory and local business supporters Adam Share (Red Industries), Nathan Walton (Trustee), Nick Frost (Synectic Solutions), Paul Franklin (HSBC Bank), Paul Staley (SDL Group), Steve Bateman (Staffordshire University), Gareth Higgins (KMF), James Whitehead (Plasto-Sac).

Attached is a photo of Team Tower to Tower 2018.

During the official launch of Tower to Tower 2018 the team heard from the Blakeman Family who regularly use The Donna Louise. Mum, Meghan, explained how the severe fatigue and sleep deprivation the team will face during the challenge reflects her own life as a full time carer to their daughter Lyla.

Meghan is Mum to three children, Connor 9, Jamie 7 and 5 year-old Lyla. When she was 18 weeks pregnant Lyla had a stroke in the womb, followed by a haemorrhage. Amazingly she survived the pregnancy and her premature birth. She has severe brain damage as a result of the stroke and has 13 diagnoses, 4 types of epilepsy, visual impairment and cerebral palsy. As time goes on, Lyla requires more specialist care, equipment and medical intervention.

So, what is Tower to Tower 2018?
It’s a unique and gruelling challenge starting in the shadow of The Eiffel Tower in Paris and ending, 560 kilometres and 4 days later, at the iconic Tower Bridge in London.

The first leg of the journey will see them take to their bikes to cycle from The Eiffel Tower to the port of Le Havre.

With just a few short rest stops along the way to grab some refreshments and make any necessary repairs to bikes and bodies, the team will push through the estimated 18-hour, 270km ride reaching the port of Le Havre in the middle of the night.

After a short rest stop, the team will embark on what is set to be the most challenging section of the journey. After little or no sleep, the team takes to the seas in a wooden rowing boat, braving tides, sea sickness, blisters and strong winds to row across the channel to
Brighton.

A 2 hour on 2 hours off relay format enables the boat to keep moving at all times but means that, for around 40 hours, team members will have just 2 hours at a time to change out of wet clothes, grab some sustenance and a few moments sleep before getting back in the rowing boat for their next 2 hour rowing shift.

The final leg of the journey starts at Brighton Marina and takes the team on a 100 kilometre, 24-hour trek to London, navigating all sorts of terrain including fields, canal tow paths, walking paths and busy roads, facing many of these obstacles during night time hours.

This last big push to London comes after already travelling around 482 kilometres, deprived of sleep, and pushing bodies and minds to the limit!

The team wants to use this event to raise awareness of the challenges faced by families like the Blakemans, including severe sleep deprivation. Many children and young adults with life threatening conditions require round-the-clock care and sleep can become a challenge for the parents and carers who look after them.

During this challenge, the team will be facing severe fatigue and sleep deprivation in an attempt to raise awareness of how hard it is to function physically, emotionally and psychologically on limited sleep.