A DUDLEY mum has spoken of the anguish she’s been going through as her son rows his way across the Atlantic in one of the world’s toughest challenges.

Mandy Felton, of Pensnett, says she has been worried sick about 30-year-old Lee, a member of Dudley Rowing Club, who was this week less than 500 nautical miles away from completing the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

The biology teacher and former Summerhill School pupil, who now lives in Dubai, set off from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands on December 20 to row the 10,000km across the pond with his SquareOneAtlantic team-mate and friend Sean Lannon.

The pair have experienced some of the toughest weather to have ever hit the race, with 60ft waves and 30 mph winds smashing their boat across the sea.

Mandy said: “I have never been so worried about Lee; not a minute goes by when I don’t think about him and what he is going through – especially when he called me on Christmas Eve in tears to say he wanted to get off the boat.

“They have had to go through some of the worst storms and absolutely terrible weather. The boat has been constantly flipping over and they are confined to a really small cabin where there is barely enough room to breathe.

“I hated knowing my son was going through hell and there was nothing I could do to help him. He was suffering from terrible dehydration and seasickness, so I spoke to the rescue team to see what they could do.

“They said it would take nine days for them to get out there, at a cost of £38,000! After that I called Lee’s old army officer, who is out in Iraq, and he got on the phone to Lee and soon turned him around by telling him to ‘get on with it’.

“As a family we have all supported him as much as we can, especially in the times where he has most wanted to stop, but once he got used to it and the weather did eventually die down, he has seemed to be having a better time of it.”

Mandy and her family will be heading to Antigua on Monday (February 22) to be at the finish line to welcome Lee as he takes his first steps onto dry land.

“I’m really excited to get to see the boys next week,” Mandy said. “They have really stepped up their speed over the last few weeks, but I’m just hoping they can slow down so they don’t get in before we get the chance to make it over!”

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She confessed when Lee first told her about the race she didn’t think he would go through with it but she said: “Once he sets his mind to something it’s very hard to stop him.

“I highly doubt he would do it again though, and if he does suggest it - I know what I’ll be telling him.

“But more than anything I am just so proud of both him and Sean. They have almost completed something that fewer people than have been into space have done, which is such a brilliant achievement and something no-one will ever be able to take away from him.”

To participate in the challenge, which Lee and Sean are doing for Rape Crisis England and Wales and Sport for Freedom, they had to fork out almost £80,000 of their own money.

With a lack of sponsorship compared to some of the other teams the duo are up against, Mandy hopes people will be inspired by Lee and Sean’s feat and put their hand in their pockets to help the charities.

She added: “Some of the teams they are up against are professionals at this kind of thing and have done years of intense training, but Lee and Sean hadn’t even rowed together until they first got on the water in La Gomera.

“The others have some big international brands and companies sponsoring them to do the race, but the boys have had to drum up all the money themselves. Lee even paid £40,000 of his own money for the boat, which he will have to sell at the end to get some money back.

“We were so grateful for local people like Geoff Hill who have donated money, while our daughter Charlotte used to work at QualitySolicitors Talbots and her former boss Martyn Morgan paid for the boys to have their wills done which was a legal requirement to take part.

“Just before they got on the water they heard the news that Martyn had died. We were all devastated as he was such a lovely man and so supportive of the boys.

“I personally hope people will come forward after seeing what Lee and Sean have done and make a donation so the charities can benefit from their two months of hell.”

You can track Lee and Sean's progress at www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com, or for more about the pair visit www.squareoneatlantic.com or follow @square1atlantic on Twitter.

To support the pair on their mammoth rowing quest, donate at www.justgiving.com/teams/squareoneatlantic