FOR lifelong Celtic fan, Lee Callaghan, the opportunity to take on a once-a-lifetime personal challenge was simply too good to turn down. This September, Lee will be taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, as he aims to sail, as part of a crew, on their UK to South America leg.
As part of his efforts, Lee will be looking to raise funds for Celtic FC Foundation, as well as the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Barra Island Lifeboat.
Consisting of 11 competing race teams, the Clipper Race is the world’s biggest round-the-world ocean race, and is also regarded as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.
A total of 40% of the crew are non-professional sailors and have never sailed before. Many have met one another for the first time in the months leading up the race when taking part in a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure. It is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
The overall route is split into a series of 13 races over eight legs and points are awarded for each race. Lee’s leg of the race will see him set off from London, bound for Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Speaking ahead of this monumental challenge, Lee spoke of his motivations and personal aims for the race.
He said: “I grew up in Saudi Arabia by the Red Sea and was at the beach and around boats a lot of the time. I always wanted to learn to sail but my family weren’t involved in sailing, so it wasn’t something I ever picked up.
“In early 2019, following a number of bereavements involving family and close friends, I decided to make a career change to free up more time to do the things in life that I’d always wanted to do. Around this time, I saw the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race advertised. From the minute I looked into it in detail, and met the Clipper Race team, it felt like a perfect fit and something I had to do.
“I was keen to also use the opportunity to raise some funds for charities and organisations that are close to my heart. As a long-term Celtic season ticket holder, I’ve always been extremely proud of the charitable foundations on which our club was built and it has been great to see the way that Celtic FC Foundation has carried this history forward, to help tackle the key issues affecting society today.
“The fact that the Foundation is currently working to support those suffering with Dementia, as well as their carers, was very important to me too, as this is an issue which has affected our family.
“I am also raising funds for the British Heart Foundation in memory of my brother-in-law, Stuart McGann, Cancer Research UK in memory of my Dad, Jim and close friends who have recently lost their battles with Cancer and the Barra Island Lifeboat in memory of my friend, Ryan McGuckin and his friend Iain MacDougall. Both are fellow Celtic fans who tragically lost their lives in a diving accident on Barra in 2017.
“Ultimately, losing these people in recent times has very much inspired me to take on this challenge and it only seemed fitting to pay tribute to them all, by raising funds for four wonderful organisations.”
Lee and the rest of the crew are currently undergoing the four mandatory training levels, as they continue to prepare for the race start on September 1.
He added: “The race itself is going to be one of the hardest things I will have ever done. Sailing across any ocean would be a massive achievement for me, based on my lack of previous experience, but sailing across 7,000 miles of ocean for over 30 days with a crew I hardly know, presents major physical and mental challenges.
“Through my efforts, I want to show my children, Jack and Sofia, that you can take on a difficult challenge, well outside your comfort zone, at any stage of life and through hard work and commitment you can make it happen.
“Being away from family and friends with very limited contact will also be tough and I’m extremely grateful for my wife Laura, who is supporting my involvement.”
You can support Lee’s tremendous efforts by making a donation HERE.