Disabled Adventurer and Explorer, Darren Edwards, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Darren has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK. Daren is a former Mountaineer and Army Reservist who was paralysed in a near death climbing accident at the age of 26. Since then, Darren has become an active para-adventurer and expedition leader who has become a passionate champion of the phrase “strength through adversity”. Adventure has been at the heart of Darren’s recovery. Since sustaining his life-changing injury and becoming paralysed from the chest down, Darren has focussed his recovery by taking on new and ambitious challenges – whether that be learning to freedive to depths of over 30ft on one breath, or in becoming the first disabled person to kayak from Land’s End to John O’ Groats – a distance of over 1,400 kilometres across some of Europe’s most challenging coastal waters. In 2022, Darren is aiming to become the first disabled person to complete the iconic World Marathon Challenge (seven marathons, seven continents, seven days). Each of Darren’s adventures have tested the limits of his physical and emotional recovery, and has allowed him to further develop a sense of mental resilience which has helped Darren to overcome adversity after adversity.
“Since sustaining my spinal cord injury and disability, I am passionate about how disabled people can access the same opportunities as everyone and to change perceptions of what those with disabilities can achieve. There are 13.9million disabled people in the UK which makes up of 22% of the overall population. As one of the 13.9million, I know how important it is to be fully included in society.
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) have been striving to support young adults and students with disabilities for many years and their vision is to support and improve the mental health and fitness ofall students and young adults in the UK; there are 5million students in Higher and Further Education and BRIT are inviting every university, college and specialist college in the UK to embrace their annual BRIT Challenges and enter teams to ensure all students and young adults of all abilities are able to take part if they want to.
The BRIT Challenge has been designed as an inclusive feel-good fundraiser. There are many fundraising activities and events aimed at students and young adults, however it is rare to see a UK-wide challenge that ensures social responsibility, inclusion, equality and diversity and destigmatising mental health and disability are at the core of their annual events.
BRIT are putting the needs of young adults and students at the heart of everything they do and I applaud the charity for its determination to collaborate and unite the charity education and sport sectors. BRIT are a visionary organisation and despite no funding from government or sports organisations, they are becoming a great example of how to forge partnerships and relationships and bring organisations and institutions together.
I am honoured to be a BRIT Ambassador and, in addition to supporting students at the University of Westminster as they enter teams and take on their challenge, will also help to champion this opportunity throughout the disability sector to ensure specialist colleges are aware of the opportunity to enter teams.”
Darren Edwards Disabled Adventurer and Explorer
Darren graduated from the University of Westminster in 2012, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern History. While at Westminster, Darren was Men’s Football Captain between 2010 and 2012. On the 6th August 2016, Darren’s life changed forever. Whilst rock climbing in North Wales, Darren was involved in a serious fall which would leave him with a life-changing injury. As Darren climbed a 120ft (36m) exposed rockface, it wasn’t until he stood just 30ft (10m) below the summit that his world would turn upside down. With a section of rock unexpectedly shifting below his feet, Darren was sent tumbling uncontrollably toward his climbing partner below. The injury Darren sustained would leave him instantly paralysed from the chest down and with a severe spinal cord injury. Darren had been incredibly lucky to survive. Yet, as he was prepared for aerial extraction by the Mountain Rescue, Darren made an important and life-changing commitment to himself. He wouldn’t be beaten.
The 6th August 2016, marked the start of a new and challenging chapter in Darren’s life. What followed his accident was an arduous five-month journey through intensive care, surgery, and rehabilitation. Whilst Darren was able to come to terms with the events of that day, it would be accepting the limitations and implications of his disability that would require genuine grit and resilience. Forever conscious of the commitment Darren made to himself on the day of his accident, he has pushed himself at each stage of his rehabilitation to come back stronger and to prove what can be achieved by someone with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and disability. Adventure has very much been at the heart of Darren’s recovery. Since first dreaming of learning to kayak as a way in which he could continue to explore the great outdoors, Darren has gone on to train as part of Great Britain’s Paracanoe Team, to pioneer adaptive freediving in the UK, and in 2021, to become the first disabled person to kayak from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’ Groats in Scotland – a distance of over 1,400 kilometres.
Darren has refused to let the word disability define who he is am as a person and is committed to helping challenge the perception of what those with a disability can achieve.