In July 2018, four British men set off from Geraldton in Western Australia to row 3,600 nautical miles, non-stop and unassisted, across the Indian Ocean to raise awareness and funds for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

Only half of the crews that have attempted the crossing have been successful – less than 50 people can claim to have rowed across the Indian Ocean. To put that into context over 500 people have been into space and Everest has been summited over 7,500 times.

One of the crew members, Robin Buttery, was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in June 2015 just before his 44th birthday. Through the row, Robin wanted to show a positive image for people living with Parkinson’s disease and especially to those struggling to come to terms with a recent diagnosis. Until this challenge, Robin has never rowed in his life and is living proof that life does not stop have to stop with a diagnosis.

Robin faced his own battles which are well documented on the blog. This piece entitled ‘is Parkinson’s getting the better of me?’ is very poignant – http://www.rowtheindianocean.com/is-parkinsons-getting-the-better-of-me/ and highlights some of the many challenges he had during the crossing.

But, Robin is the first person ever to row across any ocean with Parkinson’s and that’s a huge achievement in itself.

Oxford Brookes University has also been following Robin’s journey and monitoring his progress throughout the row. It is hoped that the University’s research will shed new light on the disease and change the way it is viewed and ultimately treated.


Everybody has heard of Parkinson’s Disease, but unless you have been directly affected it is unlikely that you will know much about this degenerative neurological condition. You may know that it makes people shake, and you probably think that you must be old to have it.

The reality is that you can be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) at any age. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s have the condition and for them, the impact on their life is much more dramatic. Sadly, there is no support network to help those diagnosed at a young age. This is something that needs to be addressed.

The purpose of the row is to bring about awareness of Parkinson’s in younger people and through the chosen charities, raise much needed funds for them to continue and grow the great work they are doing in this area.

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