Elite para-skier, climber and explorer, Jonny Huntington, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Jonny has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK. Jonny is an elite para-skier, climber and explorer. In 2014, whilst serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and excelling as an ultra-distance runner, Jonny had a brain bleed that left him paralysed from the neck down on the left side. Following extensive rehabilitation, he returned to the world of elite sport as a disabled athlete, competing for Great Britain in Cross Country Skiing.
"Having studied at the Universities of York and Exeter, I know that a significant number of young adults are living with mental health challenges. Having been an able-bodied athlete, a soldier, and later a para-athlete, I have been determined to live life to the full, however I know that living with a disability or feeling vulnerable can be tough. The COVID-19 pandemic has hugely exacerbated existing mental health difficulties faced by young adults and students, and this is a crucial time to ensure the charities who support young adult mental health have the funding and resources required to help those in need.
Collaboration within the charity sector is key and I am delighted that BRIT are inviting every university and college team taking part in the BRIT Challenge to choose a second charity to raise funds for alongside BRIT to support local, regional and national charities.
Physical activity is crucially linked with mental health and cognitive fitness, and it’s vital to support and improve this across the board. In doing so, it is vital that inclusivity is considered, and that people feel empowered to enable themselves to keep physically and mentally fit, regardless of whether they are disabled or not. I applaud the design of the annual BRIT Challenge to be inclusive and allow students and staff of all abilities to take part; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling. I hope that higher education institutions across the UK see the value to their staff and students in the BRIT Challenge, and encourages their students and staff to enter teams and take part.
I am thrilled to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family to help support and improve young adult mental health and fitness. I look forward to encouraging students and staff at the University of York and the University of Exeter to take on the BRIT Challenge. This is something which can affect all of us, and I encourage others who have been supported when they needed it to join the BRIT Ambassador family, unite and help to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK.”
Jonny Huntington Elite para-skier, climber and explorer
Jonny was educated at Oundle School and went on to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and the History of Art at the University of York between 2005 and 2008. Whilst at York, he was President of the University of York Hockey Club and Vice-Chair of James College. In 2013, Jonny attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and then served in the British Army until November 2016, when he was discharged due to the brain bleed that he suffered in 2014 that left him paralysed from the neck down on his left side. Following an introduction to Cross Country skiing with the Armed Forces Para Snowsport Team, he has made a return to elite sport as a para-skier, climber and endurance athlete.
Jonny’s recent accomplishments include representing Great Britain in Para Cross Country Skiing and competing in the 2017 and 2019 IPC World Cup events. In addition to Cross Country Skiing, Jonny competes at a national level in climbing.
He has had multiple Visma Ski Classic series finishes and came 3rd in the Great Britain Para climbing Championships in both 2019 and 2020. In 2020, Jonny completed his Master’s degree in Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter. He has guided for the alpine ski touring challenge event Everest in the Alps in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2021, Jonny took part in Kayak 4 Heroes, completing 1400 kilometres by kayak from Land’s End to John O’Groats. It was a world first for an adaptive team. Jonny is now setting his sights on becoming the first ever disabled person to travel from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole solo, unsupported and unassisted. For more information about Jonny, please visit his website. For more information about Cross Country Skiing, please visit the British Nordic Ski Team website.