Philip Bigland from Malmesbury is on a mission to shine light on the experience of having a premature baby for men as well as women. 
He is keen to raise awareness for people like his brother, whose child was born prematurely. 

Philip and three of his friends will be rowing the Atlantic, going above and beyond to fundraise to support other families affected by the condition.
They will be rowing in a boat called Elijah’s Star in memory of another child born prematurely and who died at 37 days. They are aiming to cross the Atlantic in the same time frame to reflect the impact of the life cut short. 
Last week, World Prematurity Day was marked on November 17. 

Philip said: “Premature birth is the biggest killer of children under five globally. It’s absolutely insane. 
“One in ten people have a premature baby, and that’s 50,000 babies every year. 
“A thousand will go on to die because they are just too premature or too ill. 
“And then you have 59,000 who will go onto have long-term health problems. 
“An incubator is not the place to develop your lungs,” he added.
“The place to develop them is inside mum’s tum. That is why we just want to raise funds and awareness for it.”

“We’ve got hundreds of stories, some are absolutely enlightening and some are absolutely heart-breaking, and it’s just how do we continue to raise their voice. The babies can’t speak, they can’t do it. And actually raise awareness in general of this problem that we’ve got.

“It’s quite a difficult topic because it’s around children and there are a lot of emotions.”  
After two years of training, the group will finally get to row the second largest ocean in the world on December 12. Starting in Canary Islands and ending in Antigua and Barbuda, they will be covering more than 3,000 miles. 

Their boat is 28-feet and has been liveried in the names of sponsors’ children who were born prematurely. Some have gone on to live normal lives while others unfortunately passed away in just a few months of birth.
Thinking about the row, Philip noted: “It’s been everything. It’s a big old challenge but I’m hoping to enjoy it. 

“My friend always wanted to do it. Eventually after a couple of years he persuaded me and we’ve got a team of people we’ve known for a very long time to join us on the journey. 

“So there’s four of us as I didn’t fancy doing it on my own or as a pair because if I’m going to do it it’s good to go in a boat that’s going to go at a bit of speed. So it sort of went from there. 

“In 2020 we got a boat and the rest is history.

“The row has been such a big part of our life, we want to make sure we keep that momentum going. 

“When we get back, we’ve obviously got another story to tell, because not only will we have raised the money, we’ll also have completed the challenge and we can talk to people about where the money has been spent, and is going to be spent.”