South African, Cayle Royce has made history in the first all-amputee team to row 5 000 kilometres across the Atlantic – and had a Skype congratulations call from Prince Harry.
The four-man “Row2Recovery” team completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 46 days 6 hours and 49 minutes.
The crew was made up of 29-year-old Cayle, Paddy Gallagher (31), Nigel Rogoff (56) and Lee Spencer (46) from Yelverton. They jokingly call the event a ‘three-legged race’ – because the four amputees only have three legs between them.
They completed the arduous challenge to raise funds for Help for Heroes, Blemsa and Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund.
The crew received a congratulatory call via Skype from Prince Harry shortly after their arrival.
Skipper Cayle said: “We are so proud to be the first all amputee team to row an ocean and extremely humbled by the support we have received.
“We are very proud to be able to support injured servicemen and women everywhere through the Endeavour Fund, Help for Heroes and BLESMA.
“Although totally exhausted we are ready to celebrate the fact we have just conquered 3,000 miles in the world’s toughest ocean rowing race. There is life beyond injury – that’s our message, we hope it’s out there!”
The team was led by Light Dragoon Lance Corporal Cayle Royce, MBE. This is the second time that he has taken on the challenge.
Cayle, 29,who is originally from South Africa, currently lives in Dartmouth with his mother and brother, underwent a double amputation and lost the fingers on his left hand following an IED blast in Helmand, Afghanistan whilst serving as a Light Dragoon in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in 2012.
Trooper Royce, who lost both his legs in Afghanistan in 2012 and subsequently spent 48 days in a coma, was part of the first all-amputee team to row across the Atlantic – but completed the challenge for the first time just 18 months after his injury.
He said: “I met Harry when I completed the row for the first time and he recognised me and told me I was an absolute lunatic for doing it again.”
“You consider a lot more when you lose limbs. Having these rows to aim for really pushed me to work hard and it’s only through the Endeavour Fund and seeing guys constantly generate interest in people like us that it’s possible.”
Prince Harry commemorated the athletes in an official speech and spoke of how he was hoping those in need would rediscover their sense of purpose through sport.
He said: “For some people, the struggle to move beyond injury or past experience continues. They suffer in silence, unwilling or unaware of which way to turn for help; for whatever reason they have become “the hard to reach”.”
“No longer accessible through the traditional networks, as they have gone to ground, believing that the right help isn’t out there for them, or it’s all just too confusing and complicated.”
“In this next phase of the Endeavour Fund, we will be asking those who have taken part in previous endeavours to take a leading role in future challenges as project managers but more significantly to act as peer mentors, forming a support network for those veterans who have not found the impulse to come forward.”
“Those who have spent time in the military are proud to acknowledge that they are defined by that service.”
“To describe yourself as a soldier, sailor or airman means something.”
Cayle took part in the race as a member of the Row2Recovery crew and came third, beating 13 other international teams.
“Knowing that there would be opportunities to prove myself able to complete physical challenges was important when I first got injured. Waking up in hospital with no legs, one hand and half your face blown apart makes you question what the future might look like. It makes you wonder whether the adventure is over.”
“I don’t want points for taking part, and I don’t want special treatment. This is about respect and I hate it when people pity guys like us, when they can’t see past the physical injuries that we carry. We are here to compete as equals and to show that with the right tactics, teamwork, and mind set, we can mix it with anyone.”