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Transatlantic rower inspires pupils at former school

Transatlantic rower inspires pupils at former school

The bunting was out as pupils at a Worcestershire school virtually cheered on one of their own as she completed a mammoth challenge to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic solo.

Lara Vafiadis, a former pupil at Malvern College, spent 98 days, 22 hours and 22 minutes at sea facing some tough challenges in her bid to complete the epic voyage as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Lara conveniently timed her arrival to coincide with Tuesday’s mid-morning break, and 50 girls from Lara’s old boarding house (No. 8) tuned in to the live feed as Lara finally crossed the finish line and arrived in Antigua.

The applause and cheers in school were deafening as youngsters watched family and friends greet Lara and congratulate the exhausted rower who has raised tens of thousands of pounds for three different charities.

Lara had visited Malvern College to give girls at the school a motivational talk before she embarked on her rowing adventure back in December.

The school has since followed her progress avidly sending good wishes on social media and encouraging others to support her fundraising efforts.

Today staff and pupils heaped high praise on Lara who was supported in the challenge by the Malvernian Society.

Suzy Leeke, Head of Alumni Engagement for the Malvernian Society, said they could not be more proud of Lara and all that she had achieved.

“We were absolutely delighted when Lara agreed to come and give a talk at Malvern College and she made a huge impression on our pupils, particularly our girls,” said Suzy.

“She captured wonderfully all the emotions in taking on a challenge like this and made it also seem accessible for anyone to aim high in what they would like to do in life.

“It has been a roller coaster watching her journey as she has faced numerous challenges, low points and real once-in-a-lifetime moments such as when a large humpback swam straight underneath her 6m long ocean rowing boat. But she has tackled everything thrown at her, fully enjoyed the memorable moments and never forgotten her passion for encouraging others to have their own ambitions.”

Suzy said Lara had promised to return to school to give a second talk on how her Atlantic Challenge had gone with the school very much looking forward to hearing all about it.

Headmaster at Malvern College, Mr Keith Metcalfe, added his congratulations saying Lara very much embodied the Malvernian ethos which encouraged youngsters to take on often tough physical challenges to both promote independent learning and gain confidence.

“We are extremely proud of Lara and I know staff and pupils alike have much enjoyed watching her take on this challenge and now very much feel inspired by not only her success but her attitude throughout which has been determined, resilient and positive in outlook.”

The school is renowned for its outdoor pursuits programme which sees all pupils take on a range of activities from canoe polo and mountain biking.

An ambitious expedition is taken on every other year which sees a selected group of pupils face an endurance trek lasting up to three weeks often travelling hundreds of miles using bikes, kayaks and paddle boards.

Lara launched her challenge in memory of her father and the money raised goes to Prostate Cancer UK, Plan UK for equality for girls and Our Only World, an environmental charity.

Any further donations can be made at This Girl Rows

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