A RECORD-BREAKING solo yachtswoman helped a Swindon-born adventurer prepare for his biggest challenge.

Dame Ellen MacArthur gave advice to Sir David Hempleman-Adams during his preparations for a solo voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in support of St John Ambulance. Sir David is a fairly inexperienced sailor but will set off from Southampton in a few weeks to face unpredictable weather and extreme isolation on the high seas for 35 days on the way to New York.

Dame Ellen said: “David not only has an extraordinary ability to take on challenges and goals but a track record of achieving them. To take on the challenge of crossing the Atlantic from continent to continent, when you are fairly new to sailing is one thing, but to do it solo is really quite another.

"You never know quite what the weather and the ocean have in store for you and taking this challenge on really does show David’s commitment to raising awareness of the incredible work of St John Ambulance. I wish him all the luck in the world, and I do hope that the elements are kind to him."

Sir David hopes the solo sailing feat will raise awareness of the valuable work St John Ambulance volunteers do in supporting communities around the county and country, and encourage more people to support the charity. He also wants to inspire others to try something that will take them out of their comfort zone - though perhaps something slightly less perilous than what he will be attempting.

Sir David said: "I know it will be a very physically and mentally demanding challenge but having the support and expert advice from a world class pro like Ellen is invaluable. We can all go on a voyage of discovery, whether it’s learning new skills, gaining new experiences or meeting new people. Just find something that inspires you."

To find out more about the work of the St John Ambulance charity and join as a volunteer, visit sja.org.uk/discovery