Team Britannia’s Lee Spencer (47) was honoured on Wednesday 29th March for his “enduring legacy” of charitable fundraising and helping others.
The former Royal Marine of more than 24 years’ service received the Paul Harris Fellowship, Rotary International’s top honour, at a special event hosted by the Southsea Castle branch of the organisation.
Named after the founder of Rotary, the award was initially given to those who raised over $1,000 (£800) for the organisation, but now is used to honour Rotarians who have made an outstanding commitment to charity and Rotary. It is highly unusual for the award to be given to a non-Rotarian.
Speaking ahead of the presentation, Alan Priddy, the skipper of Team Britannia and a longstanding Rotarian commented: “I am so pleased for Lee, who is an absolutely amazing guy. A great husband, father, crew member and charitable fundraiser who despite injury has created an enduring legacy of helping those less fortunate.
“This is why Rotary have taken the highly unusual decision to award Lee our top honour, the Paul Harris Fellowship.”
Mr Spencer lost his right leg and injured his left in a freak accident. While stopping to help at the scene of an accident on the M3 motorway in January 2015, a second crash catapulted part of a car engine and gearbox into him.
Despite the significant injury and shock, Lee remained conscious for nearly half an hour after the accident, calmly instructing a good Samaritan and his daughter how to make a tourniquet and stem the life-threatening blood loss.
Following the terrible injury he was medically discharged from the Royal Marines in 2016 after more than 24 years’ service, having served in Northern Ireland and Iraq, as well as three tours of Afghanistan.
Before his accident, Lee was already a committed fundraiser for the Royal Marines Charity – of which he is now an ambassador, but since 2015 he has increased his fundraising exploits, including rowing across the Atlantic just 11 months after losing his leg as part of the Row2Recovery crew.
Mr Priddy continued: “Looking at the catalogue of challenges Lee has undertaken is incredible, doubly so when you add in his injuries, sustained while selflessly helping others. That’s why he is a worthy recipient of Rotary’s highest honour.”
Set up in 1905 by the Chicago Lawyer Paul Harris, the first Rotary Club had just four members who wanted to hold regular meetings ”in fellowship and friendship.”
But Mr Harris quickly realised that Rotary needed a greater purpose. While he served as president of the Chicago Rotary Club in 1907, the club initiated its first public service project, the construction of public toilets in Chicago. This step transformed Rotary into the world’s first Service Club.
Mr Harris had great ambitions for the growth of Rotary, and very early in the organisation’s history new clubs were started, first on the west coast and then all over the US and in Europe.
By the time of his death at the age of 79, Rotary International had grown to more than 200,000 members in 75 countries.
Today Rotary International has over 1.2 million members across 200 countries, and has given around £2.5 billion to good causes.
Since 2009, Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have raised more than $555 million (£442 million) for the eradication of polio.
Later this year Lee will join Team Britannia’s record attempt, which hopes to smash the round the world powerboat record, cutting up to seven days off the current time of 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes, held by New Zealander Pete Bethune.
The Team will use a revolutionary semi-wave slicing boat that will carve through the waves, rather than surfing them. The super-efficient design, a variant of the “fast displacement hull” will reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent and make the 24,000 mile trip smoother and faster.
It will be crewed by a team of 12, including on each of the seven legs of the voyage up to five wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women (WIS), who are being supported by Blesma (the Limbless Veterans Charity).
Mr Priddy concluded: “Lee’s impressive military career, determination and dedication to supporting good causes makes him the perfect choice to join our crew and help us bring the world record back to Britain.”
The record attempt will start in October 2017 in Gibraltar, using the iconic Europa Point as its timing mark.
To complete the record attempt the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals and start and finish in the same place. The world record authorities, UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) have approved Team Britannia’s proposed route, which will start in Gibraltar and call at Puerto Rico, Manzanillo, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore, Oman and Malta to take on fuel.
Notes to editors:
Team Britannia is a multi-million pound British bid to design and build the fastest and most fuel efficient semi-wave slicing powerboat to circumnavigate the globe for the much-coveted UIM world record, currently held by the New Zealander Pete Bethune at 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes.
The World Record Authorities (UIM) dictate that for a recognised circumnavigation the craft has to pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and must start and finish the journey in the same place.
The boat is a completely new design from Professor Bob Cripps, former Technical Director of VT Halmatic. It has been designed in the UK and will be constructed in the Portsmouth area out of marine-grade aluminium. It encompasses “an exceptionally efficient hull,” which will cut fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent.
In addition to the design the vessel will be powered by a revolutionary fuel emulsion, a mixture of diesel, water and emulsifying agent from Clean Fuel Ltd. This will reduce harmful emissions such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.
The effects of the emulsified fuel on the engines and the emissions will be monitored for the duration of the voyage and the results published online.
The boat is being built by the Aluminium Boatbuilding Company based in Hampshire, out of marine-grade aluminium. The metal was produced by Blackburn metals and laser-cut by specialist firm Aalco in Southampton.
The boat will also showcase nearly a dozen leading marine companies, which are supporting the project with their expertise and equipment.
Team Britannia will launch their record bid in October 2017 from Europa Point in Gibraltar.
Length – 80 feet
Internal beam – 13 feet
External beam – 19 feet
Draft – 30 inches
Material – Marine grade aluminium, including nearly 12km of framing
Hull thickness – 8-10 mm
Build weight – 20 tonnes
Range 4,000 nautical miles
Engines – Two customised Fiat Power Train C13 500, 6 cylinders
Power – Each engine is capable of generating 500HP at 2,000 RPM
Water jets – Two Castoldi turbo drive 490 HC
Fuel – Emulsified diesel (diesel, water and a unique emulsion developed by Clean Fuel and its partners)
Navigation station – Raymarine
Communications equipment - Standard Horizon & Iridium Everywhere
Batteries – Mastervolt
Total crew – 20 (12 onboard with 5 rotating on and off the boat plus 3 shore based)
Crew clothing - Sebago
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