Adventurer, Para Rower, Disability Ambassador & Founder of Climbing Out, Kelda Wood MBE, joins BRIT
We are delighted that Kelda has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.
After sustaining life-changing injuries, Kelda has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, represented Great Britain as a member of the GB Paracanoe Squad, was the first adaptive woman to summit Aconcagua and became the first para rower to solo row the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Having retrained as an outdoor instructor, Kelda founded Climbing Out; the charity runs 5-day outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self-esteem in people who have been through life-changing injury or illness.
“In addition to experiencing trauma first-hand and struggling with mental health challenges in my own life, through my work with Climbing Out, I have had the privilege of working with many people who face life changing injuries, illness and trauma; including those battling with cancer, who have acquired disabilities, been bullied or suffered abuse, survivors of terrorism or crime and who have struggled with PTSD. I can appreciate and understand the difficulties that so many young adults and students face.
There has been a significant increase in the number of students and young adults experiencing mental health challenges pre-COVID-19 and it is worrying that the pandemic is impacting on existing mental health difficulties and the mental a health of many new and returning students. In order to avoid long-term effects on their mental health, a collaborative approach between charities, support services and organisations will undoubtedly support more young adults and students with mental health challenges.
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Vision, to support young adult and student mental health throughout the UK, resonates with me both personally and professionally. I applaud BRIT forpartnering, or developing special relationships, with many national governing bodies throughout the Education, Sport and Charity sectors. This proactive collaboration enables BRIT to engage every UK university and college and deliver an annual BRIT Challenge for students and young adults to participate in. The annual BRIT Challenge is a feel-good February fundraiser that enables students and young adults of all abilities to take part in wherever they are (at home or on campus), improve their mental health and fitness and feel part of a team.
I am delighted to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health. By uniting as Olympians, Paralympians, sports personalities, adventurers and explorers, we can encourage more of our chosen universities and colleges to take on the annual BRIT Challenge and support the mental health and fitness of students and young adults throughout the UK.
I would be thrilled to encourage students and staff at Warwickshire College Group (WCG), the University of Chester, the University of Lincoln and the University Centre Shrewsbury, should they enter teams in the BRIT Challenge. The next BRIT Challenge will take place in February 2022 and I urge students and staff at WCG, Chester, Lincoln and Shrewsbury to participate and unite to support young adult and student mental health.”
Kelda started her sporting career playing netball at a national level as a teenager. Sport very quickly became the thing that defined who she was and the person she wanted to be. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Studies at the Warwickshire College of Agriculture and her aspiration was to represent Great Britain as an Olympic Equestrian Athlete. However, in 2002, Kelda suffered life-changing injuries following a freak accident that resulted in an irreparable leg injury which meant that she was unable to pursue an equestrian career.
The leg injury had a huge impact on Kelda’s life, leaving her no longer able to run or play many of the sports that meant so much to her. This affected her confidence and self-belief, and Kelda spent nearly 10 years fighting to accept who she was.
In 2002, Kelda decided to climb Kilimanjaro, and this proved to be the start of a new direction in life. She returned to the UK and began retraining as an outdoor instructor. As a result of the dramatic effect the outdoors had on her own mental and physical recovery, Kelda decided she wanted to help others facing similar challenges to herself, and this led her to set up the charity Climbing Out in 2010. The charity runs 5-day outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self-esteem in people facing life changing injury, illness or trauma.
Between 2012 and 2018, Kelda was an Adventurous Training Coach with Battle Back who ran multi activity courses for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
In 2014, was selected to represent Great Britain as a member of the GB Paracanoe squad. After just missing out on selection for the Paralympic Games in Rio, she was selected as a member of the Adaptive Grand Slam Team who were attempting to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America at 7,000m. On the 19th January 2017, she became the first recorded adaptive female to summit the mountain.
In 2018, Kelda set off to row solo across the Atlantic with the aim of inspiring others whilst raising awareness and funds for Climbing Out. Each day she rowed for a different young person and 76 days later Kelda had rowed 3,500 nautical miles. She was the first para-rower to solo row the Atlantic and raised over £50,000 for Climbing Out in the process. This changed the whole outlook for the charity and enabled them to support many more people who face life changing injury, illness or trauma.
In 2021, Kelda was appointed Member of the British Empire in Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Honours List.
You can follow Kelda on Twitter @WoodKelda
For more information about Climbing Out, please visit their website.