Leg 2, Day 81 – ‘My Best Always’

Laura Penhaul By

Day 81 – ‘My Best Always’

Wow what a day, Thursday 15th of October will go down as a key highlight to date. Not only did we have the amazing One Show phonecall in the morning, but the night was topped off by my receiving a call from my old Junior School. The lovely Dan Simons, a teacher at Trewergie Junior School in Redruth, Cornwall had been so supportive of the row and had set up a non-school uniform day of heroes and heroines whilst running a rowathon, all in aid of raising funds for our charities. Dan is one of the most passionate and enthusiastic teachers I know, driven to empower his pupils to be the best they can be, a trait shared with his father who was my teacher when I was at Trewergie. Dan had co-ordinated through my parents, to set up calling us on the boat when the children were together for an assembly at 10:15am (UK time). This was 11:15pm for us and landed at the beginning of mine and Ems row shift which was from 11-01:00 (after much deliberation around time difference and mucking it up as I had planned/ thought it was landing in a rest shift- oops!). We were lucky with the weather, that although the seas were choppy and the wind was picking up, the night sky was clear with an abundance of stars and slither of a moon, so we were able to stay out on deck for the call. Apart from signal dropping out twice briefly, the call was clear and we were able to speak to the audience of 400 children and staff. Dan had introduced me and then there was an opportunity for 3 pupils to ask me questions;

1) what is your daily routine on the boat?
2) what has the sea life been like?
3) what keeps you motivated?

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This last question was my favourite. I told the children how speaking to them and hearing their support was without a doubt, a huge motivator for me. Redruth is a small town in Cornwall, so I got a chance to share how I was sitting exactly where they are (albeit more than 20years ago!) but am now experiencing sitting in the middle of the Pacific. I’m lucky enough to say, that the words that Mr.Simons left my parents and I with when I left that school, was ‘the world is your oyster’, who would have thought that 20years on, I would realise that, that has become true. I wanted to share this with the children, to help them realise not to let location or circumstance get in the way of following what you believe and help create focus on what you can achieve.

Trewergie School definitely played a huge role in shaping the person I am today and grounding of my beliefs. With a school motto of ‘My Best Always’ I hadn’t realised until recently returning to the school, how much I lived my life by that motto. The school is a beautiful old building , but to me it is more than bricks and mortar that makes a school, it’s the teachers that make it. Back in the late 80’s / early 90’s when I was there, Mr.Butcher was our Head Teacher and Mr.Simons the Deputy. Mr.Butcher was a kind man with assertive authority that ensured the School was run like clockwork which resulted in outstanding Ofsted for years to come. Mr.Simons was a lovely man and gave so much time and energy to the school to ensure every, single pupil had the best experience and they could take something away from it.

The thing with Trewergie is that it has such a welcoming, warming feeling. Having not been back since I left there when I was 11, it brought wonderful memories flooding back when I visited the month before we left for America. The homely feel to the school comes from the teachers passion and positive energy to want to be there, to be ‘their best always’. What’s beautiful is that there were still a number of teachers there that had taught me! Secondly there were the sons of my teachers (Mr.Butcher and Mr. Simons). Finally a couple of teachers were those of my classmates who had now returned to teach!!

To see your old school get right behind and go one step further to set up an independent event on our behalf, has been truly humbling. To hear 400 children shout good luck to us down the phone, is a moment I will never forget. This row has brought us some amazing experiences and we’ve seen some beautiful things, but this phonecall back to my old roots will be one of the most memorable.

Update: The last 2 nights we have had the sea around Doris light up with something luminous. We’re not sure if it’s phosphorescence or jellyfish as it comes in all shapes and sizes and seems to float past the boat not swim. We had 2 sperm whales surface near Doris today as they surfed the waves and although the wind has picked up, we are continuing a steady path towards Samoa and a good pace. Just 430nm to go!



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    Lovely words about your school and lovely sentiments from your school. Progress is good, not long now ladies before the luxuries of normality. I am currently watching the All Blacks (Huge Favourites) against France, having just watched a valiant Wales go out of the World Cup against South Africa, having put up a fantastic fight.
    Sometimes Life throws you a line, sometimes life spits in your face whatever life throws at you, you have to make the most of it, or take from it, what you can. it seems you had a fantastic group of people who gave you belief and strength at an early age? That is/was a great foundation to where you are today. As I type, the French are getting a bit of a thrashing, so today I am supporting the French! I am also supporting a team that are taking on the incredible and unimaginable Pacific. Stay safe. XX

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    An after thought Laura, my first School was “Duloe Primary” not a million miles from you. Incidentally, what is the origin of the name: “Redruth”? Stay Safe. XX

  3. Dave Simons says:

    Laura , you say that you were humbled by the fact that the school set up an independent fund raising activity on behalf of the coxless crew. Equally , I am humbled by your words about the school and the effect that it has had on your life….your comments actually reduced me to tears. Teaching brings with it many intrinsic rewards , the success (in whatever field) of former pupils is the greatest reward of all . Your quiet tenacity and sense of purpose was always evident but never more so than now. What you and your crewmates are undertaking is truly inspiring and I feel so proud to have been associated with you. Bless you and your efforts,your eventual success will go down in the history of the school you revere so much . “My Best Always” has never been so pertinent. My very best wishes to you and your colleagues. x

  4. Hi Laura and crew. Your telephone call had a true impact on the children. My son talked about it all evening about what you are achieving, your sightings of human nature and how your challenge is going. What a truly inspiring team you are, some days may be so tough, but remember you are supported by so many. You are an admiration to the children at Trewirgie school. Be proud of what you have undertaken, the charities that you are helping. We are all rooting for you. So keep going, safe trip and those last few months will fly by. What true words ..the world is your ocean!! Enjoy and love your adventure. For you are truly admired and held in high regard. Go girl 🙂 x

  5. Suzy says:

    I was lucky enough to be in the same room as those children.To captivate nearly 400 children takes some doing,I kid you not,you could hear a pin drop!
    Keep going ladies,we are so proud of you all!

  6. Simon TY says:

    One thing that puzzles me: how do you keep up My Best Always for weeks and weeks ? That is one of the most extraordinary things about you girls, that week after week, mile after mile, you are working together, pulling for each other, looking after each other, hugging each other. I find My Best For A Few Days rather pales into insignificance…..

    Keep safe and do not lose concentration as the last few weeks approach xxx

  7. wow Laura! What you have written is so true, the teachers and the school were the best! That is exactly how I remember assembly and even the piano is still in the same place. So many fantastic memories, how you have now inspired all those children is fantastic! Your all doing amazingly and we are all proud to say we know you. Mum reads your blog every day! See you when you get back, Well done and keep smiling! X

  8. Jan R says:

    Laura, this post shows you have a very big heart. Wonderful to hear your feelings towards your old school, and it’s great that you are able to give back to the place that has left such a profound impact on your life philosophy. Stay safe, and good luck to you all! Jan

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