A record breaking rower, who has twice been diagnosed with cancer, has visited Stockport to share her inspirational story.

Kiko Matthews, 37, broke the world record to become the fastest unaided female to row across the Atlantic Ocean back in March 2018.

The former science teacher, who was first diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in 2009, travelled 3,284 miles in total from Gran Canaria to Barbados.

Matthews completed the journey in 49 days, 13 hours and 15 minutes – shaving more than six days off the previous record.

As a part of her Northern Tour to promote her new book, Matthews told a Stockport audience: “I like the fact that hopefully I can inspire people, that’s one of the main reasons of these talks.

“If people can see me doing something and it educates them, that would be great. I really want to be an influencer of social behaviour, helping people to aspire to make a change.”

Matthews has twice suffered with tumours on her pituitary gland near the brain prompted by the disease, with the latter appearing during her training last summer.

“I guess I am proud. I like to think that it was only eight months before (the record breaking row) that I was in hospital having brain surgery.

“It was tough. I had never rowed before this and there was a times on the journey where I was closer to international space stations than I was to another human being!”


Since her ocean row, she has raised more than £100,000 for King’s College Hospital in London – the hospital where she received treatment in both 2009 and 2017.

Matthews has had other charitable endeavours, raising more than £500,000 for spinal injuries in Cape Town and competing in an Ultra Marathon in Jordan more recently, running 260km in 5 days.

She is now planning a 7200km cycle around Great Britain as a part of her Kik Plastic campaign, riding on the coastline and ridding the ocean of plastic along the way.

She said: “If I’m being selfish, the Earth is my playground and I don’t want it to be ruined.

“I’d love for everyone to be happy and be aware of themselves and the environment at the same time.”



Matthews expects the ride to take place next summer, and is keen to encourage other cyclists and environmentalists to join in and help her.

“It’s completely different to my ocean row, but the idea of doing something new is comfort to me. I can’t stand doing the same thing.

“This is really all about community and collaboration – if you have them, any challenge can be overcome. If we use this concept and have plastic as the challenge, we can really make a difference.”

Half the revenue from ticket sales for the Stockport talk will be donated to the Alex and the Unicorns charity.

Melanie Page, co-founder of Fountain May and organiser of the talk, said: “Kiko kindly offered to support a local charity and I thought it would be a perfect fit.

“She’s six years old and also has been affected by a brain tumour. She’s such an inspiration and a wonderful little character so it’s great that we can support her charity.”

You can purchase Kiko Matthews’ new book, ‘KIKO: How to break the Atlantic rowing record after brain surgery’

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *