The Great Thames Row – Blog – 1 My Little Paddle

| | ,

tgtr2016 logo small with naomiOne of a series of blogs provided by Naomi Riches – building up to The Great Thames Row, an attempt to set a record for being the fastest woman to row 165 miles along the length of the River Thames! The full archive of Naomi’s blogs can be found here:

30th September 2015 : My Little Paddle

Just by putting together this, the first of ‘My Little Paddle’ blogs, has made it become very very real.

In 10 months’ time I will be going for a little paddle…from the 17th-19th September 2016, I will be attempting to set a new World Record for the fastest woman to row down our glorious River Thames… 165miles from Lechlade to Gravesend, I am aiming to do this in 40hours.  I know what you are thinking… and yes, you are right… NO sleep!

There is a record that currently stands at 43hours 40mins 56seconds and was set by Malcolm Knight in 2005 and in a 20ft skiff.  Depending on what Guinness say to us will dictate if I am going for a new record as the ‘fastest woman’ or, attempting to break Malcolm Knight’s record.

This is not purely for blisters, a sore bum and a bit of fun… it is also to raise £100,000 for IN-vision; the charity I became Patron of in early 2014.

I was diagnosed with Nystagmus (amongst other things) when I was just a couple of months old and back then my parents could not get the answers and information they really wanted and needed.  Liz Charter, the Founder and Director of the charity had the same issues when her gorgeous son was born just 6 years ago; so as a result of her frustration and love for her little boy she founded the charity, IN-vision.   The charity’s aim is to further the research into, and raise awareness of, Infantile Nystagmus which affects 1 in 1,000 children.  Maybe one day we can even find a cure!

Another reason for doing ‘My Little Paddle’ is to raise awareness of the ability of those with a disability.   Every day people with a visual disability, indeed with any disability or impairment, have to trust strangers… to help them cross the road or to get something off the top self in a shop; to help them find what they are looking for be that a specific person, train platform or location.  There are endless reasons.  Because of this I will be guided down the Thames by a bunch of strangers, including some celebrities; all these strangers will be briefed and will be with another person who knows the river well and who knows what I need to be told.

I thought about doing this, years ago now but I didn’t really believe it could or would happen.   For starters I didn’t have a good enough reason!  When Liz Charter contacted me about IN-vision and I becoming the Patron for the charity, I knew that was the reason I had been waiting for.

The more I got to know Liz, the more it became apparent that here was a woman with passion and drive, who was also a tad bonkers; I just knew she would be the perfect partner with whom to arrange such a mad challenge.  I can still picture her look of disbelief, astonishment and gratitude when I told her I wanted to do this.

Over the next few months we chatted about it, making lists, having ideas… then we would start to feel overwhelmed and would leave it for a while.  Neither of us were really able to comprehend what this would entail… where were we to begin???


If you would like to know how you can get involved in this, please contact us at and we can send you all the information you might need.

You can continue to follow our story by reading these blogs on or

OR follow us on twitter…

@TGTR2016   @INvision_buzz    @NaomiRichesMBE 

Article author: Paul Merchant

About the author: Founded in its original version back in 2000 - yes the internet DID exist back then. Brought up in Marlow, went to school here, now has children at the same schools. Quite clearly loves all things Marlow - hence spending over 2 decades doing this!

Previous article

Sunrise COMCIT facial – instant results

Marlow Archaeology talk: Marlow’s Manor House

Next article