Written by Barry Johnston
Publised on 18/09/2018
Written by Dru Bryan.
Florida, and in particular, Bradenton Area CVB and Visit Sarasota County have long held a special place in my heart. I have represented these incredible destinations since 2004 and VISIT FLORIDA from 2010. They hold many happy work-related and personal memories for me, working closely together with great colleagues from across the pond, it has become a personal passion of mine to help build tourism, raise awareness of the areas stunning natural and cultural attractions and encourage more and more visitors from the UK and Ireland each year. I am proud to call these colleagues friends!
Over the past couple of years we have created a variety of campaigns to promote these wonderful areas, but one in particular has stood out for me as it has rekindled another passion of mine – rowing! Following the building in 2017 of the state-of-the-art Nathan Benderson Park rowing facility, the only FISA class A rowing course in North America, the Gosh PR team has been coordinating an exciting partnership with British Rowing, in connection with the Sarasota-Bradenton 2017 World Rowing Championships and the World Rowing Masters Regatta 2018.
As part of this three-year campaign we attended the National Championships in Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepoint several times and it made me very nostalgic for days gone, recalling when I rowed there in the mid-eighties for Strode’s College, Egham. It’s hard to comprehend this was 35 years ago. I clearly remember the fun and endeavour-ish times I had experienced when rowing in my teens with one of my closest, childhood friends Lottie Hollinworth (nee Price). I had known Lottie since the age of six years old, we’d grown up together and rowed together for Strode’s College all over the country, including Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepoint. Tragically, Lottie passed away just before she was 50 years old. It was such a shock for everyone that knew her, especially her family. For me it was so sad because we had so many great memories of adventures and experiences, particularly through rowing, and every time I visited Holme Pierrepoint I longed to send her a photo from the venue and say “ Guess where I am?” and “Remember this?”. As I turned 50 it got me thinking, life is too short not take it by the scruff of the neck and keep having fun, having a go at new things, trying new experiences and get way out of your comfort zone! So here I am at 52 about to race in the World Rowing Masters Regatta in Sarasota-Bradenton with another dear school friend Emma Hughes.
Our challenge so far has been not only incredibly physical and emotional – it’s also been incredibly intense, with a full-on training programme packed in to six months! Why on earth did we only start training in March I hear you say? Well because it took ages to find a rowing club! It is actually quite difficult to join a rowing club as a beginner, as it’s becoming an increasingly popular sport and there are waiting lists. That is unless, you talk to Twickenham Rowing Club who manages to be the most welcoming, accommodating and together club Emma and I have encountered in our quest to enter the World Masters.
But this quest is more than just rekindling of a rowing dream and a new adventure, we will be using this challenge to help raise much needed funds for Breast Cancer Care. This fantastic charity helps those affected by breast cancer to get the best treatment, information and support. As Lottie always said; ‘it deals with Stage 4 breast cancer and not just prevention’.
I know many people are taking on great challenges for charity sponsorships, but please consider donating to Breast Cancer Care and enable them to continue offering incredible emotional and practical support to cancer sufferers.
Thank you to my friend Emma for talking up this challenge with me and all at Twickenham Rowing Club for all your valuable help especially Doug Davidson our marvellous and ultra-patient coach, also Cathy Almond, Lucia Oreiro and many more!
Thank you to our families who have been incredibly patient and everyone else who has supported us along the way.
Last but by no means least with special thanks to Hertz with whom we work closely to promote Florida.
To support with a donation, please click here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Drusilla-Bryan1
To find out how she gets on follow her at: