Ready to row row row their boat across the choppy Channel...

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A group of housewives are taking part in an oar-some challenge which has already helped them raise thousands for causes close to their hearts.

The eight friends will row the English Channel on Monday, June 24 in the same boat that comedian John Bishop completed his Sport Relief challenge in last year.

Collectively known as the Channel No 7 Rowing Team, Julie Palin, Rachel Oldroyd, Jane Chubb, Helen Hellewell, Jill Woodings, Diane Hunter from Wakefield and Verene Farrell and Linda Jackson from Barnsley, have already raised £21,000 for the Children’s Heart Foundation and Meningitis UK.

Julie Palin, who’s teenage son Lewis was born with a serious heart condition, came up with the idea.

She said: “I found out when I was pregnant that something was wrong, and Lewis had to have surgery when he was 12 months old. We are among the lucky ones because he went on to make a full recovery, but for years I have wanted to do something to help others. A friend of my husband’s rowed the channel and I thought it seemed like the perfect challenge.”

When a friend lost her son to meningitis shortly after Christmas, the group decided to raise money for Meningitis UK too.

The 42-year-old added: “None of us have ever done anything like this, and initial training made us think that we had bitten off more than we could chew.

“I don’t think anyone thought we were serious at first because we’re always acting the fool and messing about, but they soon began to see our determination and the support we’ve had has been overwhelming.”

The women, who have been close friends for years, set out with a target of £5,000 but smashed that raising a £17,000 at a charity ball at Cedar Court Hotel.

They have also raised around £4,000 in donations and £600 with a day-long spinathon at Nuffield Health on Calder Island Way.

The Wakefield Sea Cadets have also been helping the ladies with their training every week in all weathers. The group are hoping to finish their rowing feat in eight hours.

Mrs Palin said: “We’re covered in blisters and in pain with pulls and strains, but we spur each other on and have a giggle at training. No one has fallen in it, but it will happen, I can see it coming.”

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