• Jones & Sugrue help cancer charity transatlantic rowing bid

    Leading wine industry figures Roger Jones and sparkling producer Dermot Sugrue joined forces last week to give a proper send-off to a four-man rowing team that will attempt to row the Atlantic in aid of cancer charity Victoria’s Promise. The crew of Anna Victorious, named after the 38 year-old wife of one member who died of cancer, are attempting to raise £100,000 for the cancer support charity and speak of how they have been helped in their quest by Jones and his contacts. David Kermode went along to the launch.

    Leading wine industry figures Roger Jones and sparkling producer Dermot Sugrue joined forces last week to give a proper send-off to a four-man rowing team that will attempt to row the Atlantic in aid of cancer charity Victoria’s Promise. The crew of Anna Victorious, named after the 38 year-old wife of one member who died of cancer, are attempting to raise £100,000 for the cancer support charity and speak of how they have been helped in their quest by Jones and his contacts. David Kermode went along to the launch.

    mm By November 3, 2021

    If you’d like to learn more about the Anna Victorious Atlantic challenge, head to Anna Victorious and if you would like to help the team hit their £100k target then you can support them here. 

    When it comes to survival rations for the crew of a rowing boat being buffeted by the wild winter winds of the Atlantic Ocean, Roger Jones’ Michelin-starred canapés and one of England’s top sparkling wines are not necessarily what leaps to mind, but that’s exactly what we were treated to, at the official send off party for the team behind Anna Victorious.

    Anna Victorious
    The Crew of Anna Victorious practising for their 1.5 million strokes that will take them across the Atlantic

    Gathering at the swish West London showroom of Porsche, sponsor for the oars the crew will use, a gleaming 911 provided an unlikely backdrop for a charity challenge that, next month, will see four determined amateurs take on the 3,000 nautical mile journey from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua, for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

    The crew – Ed Smith, Rob Murray, Adam Green and Jack Biss – will battle sleep deprivation across a month of on-off two-hour shifts, potentially encountering 40 feet waves as they row in excess of 1.5 million strokes, aiming to raise £100,000 for the cancer support charity, Victoria’s Promise.

    Anna Smith was just 38 when she died

    Inspiration for the challenge, Smith’s wife Anna tragically lost her battle with cancer at the age of 38, a year after a diagnosis for bowel cancer and just 18 months after giving birth to their daughter, Alba. The charity provided exceptional support throughout Anna’s illness, from counselling to cosmetic help, wigs and even childcare, and Ed, a former police officer, now devotes his time and energy to raising money for the cause – hence the decision to join with three close friends to attempt the gruelling Atlantic crossing.

    “At the start, we literally cold-called Roger and said ‘we know you have an amazing record of raising money for charity’ because we just wanted to pick his brains,” says crew member Rob Murray. “We met him, immediately hit it off, and he and Sue have been amazing, raising money with their takeaway menus through lockdown and always being there at the end of the phone.”

    Help for heroes: Sue and Roger Jones (centre) with the four man team of Anna Victorious

    “When I first had the call (from them), I said yes we could meet up, but I can’t really help … within 10 minutes of talking to these guys and hearing Ed’s experience I was in, and then I got involved in advising them on how to get sponsors,” says Jones.

    “It was quite simple, these guys are going to be on rations and instant food, so I came up with the idea of doing similar but upgrading,” he says of the stunning canapé menu featuring cute tin cans of sea bream, hake and salmon ceviche; shellfish Pot Noodles with a shellfish broth; Caribbean pulled pork buns; ‘hydration bottles’ of watermelon, ginger and strawberry gazpacho; and ‘sweet treats’ of foie gras and salted caramel macaroons. If this is what being shipwrecked entails, then call me Crusoe, instead of Kermode, because I’m in…

    Anna Victorious
    Menu for the launch party

    To accompany the canapé feast, another, err, survival essential: an English sparkler from one of the country’s most prolific and successful winemakers, Dermot Sugrue, The Trouble with Dreams 2017. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, with a hint of oak ageing, it was on fine form, unmistakably English, fresh yet luxurious, with golden apple, greengage, wet flint, lemon shortbread and tarte tatin.

    “I have known Dermot for 15 years and followed him closely and had the privilege to judge and award him a gold medal for his 2014 in magnum at the most recent Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships judging,” says Jones. “The 2017 is a very sophisticated elegant wine that deserves all the plaudits that it will receive, and it will continue to excel over the next decade. Dermot is a brilliant winemaker dedicated to the mission of producing the very best, and always challenging himself to excel.”

    The launch at the Porsche showroom, Chiswick

    “Cancer has touched my life and my family, and also (my fiancé) Anna’s life and family, so when Roger asked us to get involved it was a no-brainer,” says Sugrue.

    “The Trouble with Dreams is a project that I started many years ago when I was the winemaker at Nyetimber and I planted my own vineyard and it has been a labour of love, with the wines doing unbelievably well.  2017 was from a difficult vintage, with nasty late frosts, so I was fortunate to source fruit from a good friend, Simon Bladon at Jenkyn Place, where I had been making the wines. He had some great Chardonnay and I jumped at the chance.”

    Courtesy of Jones’s connections, guests also received a bottle of Sxollie Granny Smith Modern Cider from South Africa and a Regal Rogue Martini Pouch, with the glassware provided by Riedel through Sensible Wines.

    The team sets off in just over a month and they still need funding support. If you’d like to learn more about the Anna Victorious Atlantic challenge, head to Anna Victorious and if you would like to help the team hit their £100k target then you can support them here. 

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