NHS Junior Doctors “Go Adrift”…….

In April 2017, Doctors Ted Welman and Jack Faulkner will leave from Geraldton, Western Australia on their 84 day expedition to Port Louis, Mauritius as they aim to become the fastest pair to make the 3600 mile journey! The boys will spend nearly 3 months at sea as they burn 8000 calories per day rowing in 2 hour shifts, 24 hours a day for the duration of the crossing. This grueling schedule will see them battle sleep deprivation, hurricane force winds and 50 ft waves! In doing so, they hope to raise £100,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières, a global medical charity which provides much needed emergency medical care in areas affected by conflict, epidemics or natural disasters.

We caught up with Ted and Jack last week at GIANT Health and wanted to share their incredible story with you.

SD – Hi, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ted Welman and I am a junior doctor from Petworth in West Sussex

My name is Jack Faulkner and I am a junior doctor from Brighton

SD – Where are you based?

We are both based in London – Ted works at St George’s and Jack at Guy’s Hospital.

Doctors adrift 3

Ted and Jack

SD – What is your background?

Ted – I studied Medicine at Imperial College.  Since graduating in 2014 I have worked in and around London as part of my foundation training.  I am taking a year out of full time work / training to row across the Indian Ocean.  On return, I plan to start surgical training with the aim to become a plastic surgeon.

Jack – I also studied Medicine at Imperial.  Since graduating in 2014 I have worked in Tonbridge Wells and Guys and St Thomas’ in London.  As with Ted, I am also taking a year out of my full time job to complete this adventure!  I am also planning on starting surgical training on my return with the aim of becoming a specialist surgeon in ENT.

SD – Tell us how you came up with the idea for Doctors Adrift?

I’d like to tell you we came up with the idea in the cold light of day, stone cold sober, but unfortunately I’d be lying. It was one of those mad ideas one of us threw out over a pint which ended up niggling away at both of us until we managed to find a suitable gap in our training to attempt it.  That opportunity came during our foundation training when we both decided to take a year out.  The initial idea of rowing the Atlantic was quickly ditched in favour of the Indian Ocean: a much less well trodden path with the opportunity for a world record.

Deciding on the charity was the easy bit: both of us have hugely admired the work of Médecins Sans Frontières, particularly over the past few years with their work in the Ebola crisis, Syria and the Mediterranean.  Working as doctors in UK Hospitals has given us an appreciation of the importance of first responders and emergency healthcare in times of crisis.  In the UK we are incredibly lucky to have such a comprehensive health service, free at the point of delivery and available to everyone who needs it.  History has shown that natural disasters and conflicts that devastate local communities often occur in areas with the least access to medical resources.  MSF helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to those affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from healthcare. It was founded on the belief that all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries.  In order to remain completely impartial, MSF raises the vast majority of its funds from private donations which allows them to respond immediately in times of crisis without having to lobby governments or institutional donors for aid and this is why we want to use our adventure to support them.

Once more qualified in a few years time, both of us plan to apply to work for MSF.

SD – How much planning has been involved?

A vast amount!  More than we could ever have expected! Applying for bursaries and selling our pitch to potential sponsors has taken up the majority of our time but as I’m sure you can imagine, the organisation for such a trip is by no means easy.  To give you a little insight, we have had to:  find a boat, prepare the boat, obtain and service our water maker and life raft, purchase all the necessary equipment, go on training courses, arrange shipping, find 100 days worth of food, buy kit, carry out land, water and psychological training, give local talks and press releases, and fundraise so we can raise a meaningful amount for an incredibly worthwhile cause.

SD – Tell us about your brutal training regime?

In general, our training can be divided into weights sessions, long ergometer sessions (rowing maching) and training on the boat.  Five sessions per week are spent doing strength and conditioning exercises in the gym to get ourselves bigger and stronger and into a position that we can row pretty much non stop for 3 months without causing ourselves serious injury.  Two to four sessions a week are spent on the rowing machine (the worst part of our training) doing long stints of at least one hour but preferably two.  Finally we try to get out on our boat on the North Sea as much as possible – last weekend we spent 36 hours on it which was a little chilly in late November!

SD – What is the current record you are looking to beat?

The current world record for a pairs crossing is 85 days, 2 hours and 5 minutes held by a French team.  It was completed in 2012 and was the last time the Indian Ocean was successfully rowed by a pair. To do this, we need to average over 1.54 knots in a straight line.  A tricky feat considering the unreliable weather, currents and our navigation skills!

SD – How are you funding the expedition?

An expedition of this nature is by no means cheap.  We initially had to raise approximately £80,000 just to get to the start line.  Thanks to some very generous sponsors including Brickendon Consulting, Epic Private Equity and Fitlegs Compression Stockings, incredible deals on goods and a lot of extra hospital shifts by the two of us we have nearly reached our target.  We are still looking for a couple more sponsors to work with though.

SD – How do people find out more information?

By visiting our webpage at doctorsadrift.com or by liking our facebook page at facebook.com/doctorsadrift or following us on twitter or instagram @doctorsadrift.  There is a link on both our facebook page and website to our fundraising site for MSF.  We are using a startup called pledgit for our fundraising because they charge less than rival sites and are matching every pound raised for at least the first £3k.  We would be very grateful for any donations received.  All money raised will go directly to MSF. Our fundraising page is https://www.pledgit.net/campaign/9RTdql

You can donate by text:

To donate £3: text MRXKR to 70193

To donate £5: text MRXKR to 70195

To donate £10: text MRXKR to 70190

If you are interested in our challenge, would like to get involved or are keen to sponsor us then please email us at doctorsadrift@gmail.com

SD – thanks for your time and GOOD LUCK!!


Paul Budd

Co-Founder and Business Development Director

Paul is an experienced sales & marketing leader within the healthcare sector and is a Co-Founder of Salus Digital. He is a Digital Health enthusiast with a passion for extending the reach of technology to improve patient’s lives and reduce the strain on healthcare services.

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