TWO Hampshire men were dramatically rescued after their charity challenge took a turn for the worst in the Atlantic Ocean.

Anthony Ward Thomas, 57, from Liss and James Ketchell,32, from Basingstoke were taking on a gruelling charity challenge to travel across the Atlantic in a pedalo to raise money for Naomi House and Jacksplace.

The pair had set off on January 31 and had hoped to arrive in Antigua a minimum of 45 days later.

But nine days in, they hit trouble when Anthony Ward Thomas suffered a heart scare, and they quickly set off an emergency beacon and were airlifted to safety.

They got into difficulty on the 'Kitty Rouge' just off the coast of El Hierro island near Spain, 600 nautical miles South West of the Canary Islands.

Coastguard officials confirmed the rescue and said one of the men had been taken to hospital following the rescue.

A spokesperson for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said: “ ‘On Monday evening (8 February) the UK Coastguard received a distress signal from an ocean rowing boat located 600nm South West of the Canary Islands.

“UK Coastguard used the satellite phone to contact the rowing boat and were told that one of her two crew (both British nationals) required medical attention. The UK Coastguard informed MRCC Madrid who have responsibility for that area.

“A Mayday Relay broadcast via the Inmarsat satellite system was issued in the area to request assistance. Several vessels picked up the call and diverted their course towards the location of the rowing boat.

“In the early hours of Tuesday morning (9 February) the two crew were rescued by a cargo vessel. The vessel made its ways towards Las Palmas where a medivac was organised by MRCC Madrid. “Both crew were taken to Tenerife and the crew member that required medical attention has since been released from hospital.”

Marketing manager at Naomi House and Jacksplace, Keith Wilson, said: “We have seen the reports coming from the Canary Islands regarding the rescue of James Ketchell and Anthony Ward Thomas from the Kitty Rouge, and have been following updates as best we can.

“Having spoken with Anthony’s family it would seem that both members of the Pedal the Ocean Crew are on dry land and are OK. We do not know any more details at this stage but are reassured to hear this news and send our very best wishes and admiration to them both.”