CREWS from a rowing club are taking part in a 25km challenge to raise funds for a charity close to the hearts of many of its members.

Three teams from Durham Amateur Rowing Club (Darc) are getting involved in the Great Tyne Row, which takes place today.

They are raising money for the Stoke Association.

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Crew member Steve Auster said: “Two of the participants taking part this year have actually had strokes and rowing has really helped them in their recovery.

“We were talking over a coffee one day and I mentioned my mother had had a stroke and other people popped up and said had someone who had had one.

“Almost all of us have either a close relative or a good friend who had had a stroke so we put the team together and decided to raise money for the Stroke Association.”

The teams have been named ‘30 strokes a minute’, ‘The F.A.S.T crew’ and ‘stroke ‘n’ recovery’ – chosen to reflect the charity’s awareness work.

Mr Auster added: “30 strokes a minute emphasises the fact every two seconds someone somewhere in the world has a stoke.

Each of the three teams has been given a name reflecting the choice of charity, which all highlight a different aspect of its awareness work.

“The F.A.S.T crews highlights the need for fast action by recalling the Stroke Association acronym Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech problems, Time to call 999.

“And stroke ‘n’ recovery to highlight that there is recovery after stroke, as borne out by two of our rowers.”

The teams, each made up of four rowers and a cox, will be taking on the 25km route, which starts at Newburn, to the west of Gateshead, and finishes at Tynemouth.

Crews from all over the North-East, and from further afield will be taking part.

Roger Bean, who had a stroke in 1997, was a member of Darc until he moved to midlands in 2015 and returned to the area specially for the event.

He said: “I’ve been rowing for a long time but I gave it up in my 30s and started again at Darc when I retired. When I started again I wondered why I ever stopped.

“I’m pleased we’re raising money for the Stroke Association and we’re well on the way to the team target of £1,000.”

To sponsor the team visit www.justgiving.com/companyteams/darcgtr.