Melanie C and Sacha Dhawan voice support for the Boat of Hope campaign

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Melanie C

Singer-songwriter and pop icon Melanie C has been unveiled as the lead narrator for the animated teaser trailer of Bernie Hollywood OBE’s inspiring Boat of Hope campaign for youth mental health, with actor and Doctor Who star Sacha Dhawan concluding the trailer with a vital call to action. 

Leading children’s author Natalie Reeves Billing has written and developed ‘Bernie and Boatie’, a bespoke picture book for young children, telling the incredible story of Bernie’s quest to row the Atlantic Ocean solo in support of charities Samaritans and Love Rowing. Illustrated by Lisa Williams, Bernie and Boatie will also be produced as an audiobook and an animated trailer, which Melanie has kindly donated her time to narrate and which Sacha will conclude. The trailer will also feature an original soundtrack by composer Ben Hughes.

Following an incredibly tough year for young people and their mental wellbeing, serial fundraiser Bernie is determined to make a difference. In December 2022, the intrepid 63-year-old is set to embark upon an awe-inspiring solo row of up to 90 days across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, jointly in support of mental health charity Samaritans and Love Rowing, the British Rowing charitable foundation.

A household name and inspiring figure for many young people across the nation, Melanie’s generous support of the Boat of Hope campaign in her role as narrator is a pivotal step as the vital fundraising campaign, which features a wide range of initiatives brought about in a collaborative effort by various parties lending their pro bono support, builds momentum. The involvement of actor Sacha Dhawan, who is currently playing arch nemesis ‘The Master’ in the BBC One series Doctor Who, will further bolster the important youth mental health messages underpinning the campaign. 

Set to be published in September 2021, all proceeds of the book and audiobook sales of Bernie and Boatie will go towards the campaign’s fundraising efforts. Backed by ParentPay, Europe’s leading provider of cashless payment and parental engagement systems for schools, the Boat of Hope campaign aims to raise a total of £1 million for Samaritans and Love Rowing.

Commenting on her role as narrator for the Bernie and Boatie animated trailer, Melanie C said: “I’m really excited to be supporting Bernie and the Boat of Hope team in this inspiring initiative. As both a passionate advocate for raising awareness of mental health issues and a mum myself, the motivation behind the Boat of Hope campaign really chimes with me. The story of Bernie and Boatie’s adventures in Natalie’s book is absolutely incredible, and I am really looking forward to working with Bernie and the team on this amazing campaign to help make a difference and bring hope to thousands of young people.”

Sacha Dhawan said: “Whilst we’ve made huge progress in destigmatising mental health, we need to make it even easier for children and young people to ask for and access help when struggling with difficult emotions. That’s exactly what the Boat of Hope campaign is aiming to achieve, so I’m delighted to be able to play my part in spreading its message of hope far and wide – especially as youth mental health is an issue that’s so close to my heart.”

Bernie Hollywood added: “We’re absolutely delighted to have Melanie C and Sacha on board with the Boat of Hope campaign. As an inspiration to so many, adding their voices to the mix will be invaluable as we work to raise awareness and funds for the difficulties so many young people sadly have to face.”

Children’s author Natalie Reeves-Billing added: “I’m thrilled that Melanie C and Sacha will be narrating and concluding the animated trailer for Bernie and Boatie. In writing the book, I wanted to capture the amazing positivity that Bernie is spreading through his incredible campaign and share the awe-inspiring nature of the challenge he is taking on with young children. Melanie and Sacha are ideal candidates, and we are so pleased that they have lent their voices to such a worthwhile cause.”

ParentPay Director, Clint Wilson, added: “It’s absolutely fantastic to have Melanie C and Sacha’s generous support for the Boat of Hope campaign. A truly vital initiative, their backing will prove to be instrumental in building awareness and momentum for the campaign, ahead of Bernie’s awe-inspiring row next December.”

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