Community / Glenn rows homemade boat 83 miles for MND charity in memory of mum

Glenn after reaching London.

A SHETLAND man has completed a fundraising challenge with a difference – rowing a homemade boat more than 80 miles along the River Thames.

Glenn Tonner said the four-day row, which included sailing past landmarks such as the houses of parliament, was an “amazing experience”

He took on the challenge to raise money and awareness for MND Scotland in memory of his mum Hazel. So far more than £5,000 has been donated.


His mother passed away from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2012, aged only 52, and Glenn was looking to give something back in the fight against the condition, which has no cure.

Tonner, originally from Yell, set off from his home in Goring-on-Thames at 7am last Monday (13 December).

He pulled the folding boat – which is called Lockdown and was made last year during the pandemic from reclaimed materials, including a chopping board for oars – around a mile and a half to Goring Lock.


At 8am Glenn – who spent more than 13 years in the merchant navy – was off on the water to start his quest to row in towards the bright lights of London.

He arrived at his office in London on the Thursday at 2.30pm, having camped during the nights.

“It was very mild at night and the camping was fine,” Glenn said.

“My days took longer than I thought as so many people were interested in what I was doing. Most of those conversations turned into donations so it was worth the delay.”

Helped along by Christmas lights and a bike lamp, Glenn also rowed into the night.

He described being on the water in pitch dark as an “eerie experience”.

In the latter stages of the row he travelled along the Thames through the centre of London. This included asking a passer-by to take a photo of him on the water in front of the parliament, which he later received through Instagram.

Glenn Tonner made the rowing boat himself during lockdown.

He described the waters in some of the central parts of London as “very choppy” as there were several fast moving passenger boats to contend with as well as “large commercial tug boats each creating a wave much bigger than my little boat”.

After reaching HQS Wellington on the Embankment he took the boat out of the water and put her on a trolley for the walk to his work to complete the journey.

This included taking Lockdown, a British registered vessel, to the hubbub of Piccadilly Circus.

MND Scotland is the leading charity in Scotland providing care and support to people affected by MND, as well as funding vital research into finding a cure.

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.

People can donate to the fundraiser here.