Back to Square One – support UWE graduate in rowing's toughest transatlantic challenge

Issue date: 06 November 2015

UWE Bristol's Sean Lannon, a BSc Computing for Real-Time Systems graduate from Newcastle-upon-Tyne is about to experience a Christmas with a difference. On 15 December 2015, SquareOne Atlantic will be one of 26 crews to take on the 3,000 nautical miles, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from La Gomera to Antigua, in support of charity Rape Crisis England & Wales.

The team, Sean and Lee Felton are looking for financial support in their final fundraising push to raise £4,622 to secure a water maker for their boat. Support via their Wishlist and Indiegogo campaign

Cheltenham-based Sean reveals more about the inspiration behind the challenge in his profile below.

“I've lived in the South West of England now for about 12 years. I came down from the cold North to get my degree at the University West of England in the infamous field of Computing for Real Time Systems. In my second year at UWE things came off the rails a bit, and I didn't realise at the time that I was quite affected by the knowledge of the historic rape and (separately) domestic abuse of someone I had got to know that year - also a student at UWE.

“When a good friend suggested I speak to someone, I turned to the UWE counselling services. I was slightly hesitant given my attendance had practically been non-existent for that year, but the staff were friendly and the service was easy to use. I wanted to show that it was ok to seek guidance/ counselling and as a result the person who had confided in me eventually started to see a UWE counsellor to help deal with her past.

“Being worried about what affect this had had on the chances of attaining a good degree, I spoke with my lecturers about my options. Staff were very understanding and encouraging about repeating the year. Fast forward a few years and I successfully graduated with a degree in CRTS.

“Straight out of University I secured an excellent and highly technical job in Cheltenham. My degree set me up perfectly for the flexible role of developing firmware, embedded software and even scripted test systems and I went on to specialize in FPGA design, having really enjoyed learning VHDL at UWE.

“In 2014 I started my own company - VennCode Ltd. offering my services in Web design/ applications, software and firmware design and everything in between.

“Since my time at University other people have opened up to me about their experience with rape. Some of those people have been through far worse than what I was trying to come to terms with while at University, but I feel my time at University has helped me deal with that information in a much better way, which I hope has enabled me to help those people in some way. In just under 40 days, I will attempt to raise awareness and much needed funding for the Rape Crisis centres around the country, and row across the Atlantic Ocean.

“The idea behind SquareOneAtlantic was one of never giving up - sometimes we have to accept that the only way to keep moving forward is to go back to square one.”

Professor Paul Olomolaiye, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment and Technology, said, “We wish Sean and his teammates well on this epic adventure and are proud to support them. He has displayed amazing tenacity in overcoming personal challenges to achieve his academic and professional goals and I'm sure that this will stand him and the team in good stead for this next challenge. ”

For more information on the team, visit the SquareOneAtlantic website , Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Interested in studying at UWE Bristol – visit the Computer Science and Creative Technologies website

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