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Transatlantic rowers raise funds for suicide prevention charity

A former public school boy hopes completing a rare sporting feat in memory of his tragic brother will help support those with mental health problems.

Harry Wentworth-Stanley will spend weeks at sea over the festive period as he and others compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, dubbed the world's toughest rowing race.

Mr Wentworth-Stanley, 26, will set off from the Canary Islands next Wednesday as he and three friends look to battle chronic fatigue, hallucinations and the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them over their 3,000-mile journey to Antigua in the Caribbean.

The quartet will be raising money for the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund, which works to prevent suicide and provide crisis shelters for those suffering from depression, following the death of the rower's brother James almost exactly a decade ago.

Mr Wentworth-Stanley - whose mother is Clare Mountbatten, the Marchioness of Milford Haven, and a close friend of the Duchess of York - told the Press Association: "Our first sunrise on the water will be 10 years since the day my brother took his life.

"I'm sure it will be the most emotional of anniversaries I've ever experienced. To be there with three of my best mates with be amazing.

"I will obviously be thinking of my mum and dad back home. The emotion of that day will be all the more difficult because I will be setting off on the challenge of a lifetime.

"But I'm sure he will be right behind us and a great source of motivation."

James was 21 when he died. A coroner's report heard he had suffered severe anxiety and depression following a minor operation.

Days before his death, James visited a walk-in centre at a hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he was a student, complaining of depression and suicidal thoughts.

On December 15 2006, the former Harrow School pupil drove to the farm where his father lived. He was found later that day, lying on the floor with his shotgun beside him.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Victor Round said that James appeared to have been a "fit young man" until his operation, but the circumstances of his death made it clear he had taken his own life.

His brother, who was 17 at the time, said the death had a lasting impact on his family - but has vowed to use the tragedy for good.

Mr Wentworth-Stanley said: "It ripped through our family and was completely heart wrenching. It was, hands down, the darkest moment of my life.

"It was a night I'll never forget, for the wrong reasons. But I remember James for the great relationship we had.

"James was a very adventurous type of guy, he had a real thirst for adventure and I always wanted to do something for the charity my parents started in his memory and in his name. The key driver was to do something he loved."

Mr Wentworth-Stanley will be joined on the vessel by Harrow school friends Sam Greenly, from Andover in Hampshire, and Toby Fenwicke-Clennell, from Essex, as well as University of Leeds friend Rory Buchanan, from London.

He said: "From a personal perspective, I think when times are tough out there they can't be that tough compared with what people like my brother have gone through, for him to do what he did. I take inspiration from him.

"He never would have whined, never felt any self-pity and that, for me, is where I will try and find my strength."

:: The team, named Row For James, are hoping to raise £500,000 for their charity. To sponsor, visit rowforjames.com.

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