A RECORD-breaking ocean rower who has swapped the raging Atlantic for life in the tranquil Monnow Valley is set to lift the lid on her epic 49-day solo journey with a new documentary film and talk.

Molecular biologist Kiko Matthews, who now lives near Skenfrith, rowed solo and unsupported in 2018 just months after undergoing brain surgery, having never rowed before or been to sea.

She had been in intensive care at King's College hospital as a result of a pituitary tumour causing Cushings Disease a few years earlier.

And eight years later, and halfway into her training, the tumour returned, putting her project at risk.

But undeterred she had the tumour removed in August 2017, and six months later set off from Gran Canarias, destination Barbados.

Ocean rower Kiko Matthews is giving a talk at Cross Ash Village Hall
Ocean rower Kiko Matthews is giving a talk at Cross Ash Village Hall (Kiko Matthews)

She was on her own at the mercy of all the Atlantic could throw at her for weeks on end, rowing 3,000 miles across the ocean, with the previous fastest woman's solo time 56 days, set in 2004.

Kiko, who previously lived in the Black Mountains foothills in Longtown, said: "Within four days I encountered 50-60ft waves, my autopilot failed and I began to adapt to days of 12 hours of rowing on my own with nothing more than the food I'd eat and the equipment I needed to keep myself alive.

"At one point, I was so remote there were people closer to me in space than on the planet."

Kiko Matthews endured tough times on her Atlantic crossing
Kiko Matthews endured tough times on her Atlantic crossing (Kiko Matthews)

But sticking to the task, she rowed into Barbados in triumph in just 49 days and raising £100,000 for King's College Hospital.

"I hoped I inspired people around the world to realise they could achieve anything if they just took the risk," she added.

"The project money was raised by women and girls only and it was these people, and the fundraising aim, that drove me to the end.”

She later went on to run a five-day ultramarathon in Jordan and cycle 7,000km around the UK coast bringing communities together to help with a beach clean that saw 2,000 volunteers clean 3.5 tons of waste from 78 beaches.

She is now back home close to where she grew up, with her three-year-old daughter Ocean, and continues to want to inspire people.

And this Saturday (April 20), you can hear her tale when she gives a talk at Cross Ash Village hall, as well as premiering her new documentary.

There will also be a Q&A and food included. To book, message [email protected] or text 07910 363976.