Shropshire adventurer Kelda Wood is bidding to become the first adaptive athlete to row single-handed across the Atlantic – a journey she hopes will inspire others facing mental or physical trauma.
On March 10, she will be officially unveiling Storm Petrel, the ocean-rowing boat which is due to carry her on the epic ‘Row To Raise’ challenge, which is aiming to generate over £50,000 for the charity Climbing Out.
Kelda, who lives near Shrewsbury, will be with the specially adapted boat outside the Go Outdoors store on the Sundorne Retail Park, from 10am to 3pm, explaining how she plans to survive for up to three months on the oceans, all alone.
It’s the same journey which has just been completed by the record-breaking Atlantic Ladies team, including two Shropshire women – Dianne Carrington and Sharon Magrath.
Kelda runs Climbing Out, a charity that offers five-day outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self esteem in young people facing life-changing injury, illness or trauma, and she hopes the challenge will enable the charity to reach even more young people in the future.
After playing netball at national level and riding horses professionally, Kelda suffered a life-changing leg injury in 2002 when a haylage bale weighing nearly a tonne fell on top of her.
Determined not to allow this to halt her love of sport and activity, she became a member of the GB paracanoe squad, almost making it to the Paralympic Games in Rio.
But she admits that the transatlantic mission, part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge which begins at the end of this year, is going to be another huge learning curve.
“I’ve been on a huge journey since my own life-changing injury: a journey that’s included being a member of the GB Paracanoe squad, setting up Climbing Out, and summiting Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America.
“I now want to support others to find the same confidence and self-belief that I’ve found through my journey… and that’s why I’m going to row the Atlantic!”
Each day she is on the ocean, Kelda will be rowing for a different young person, sharing their stories and links to relevant charities and organisations that provide support.
Charities such as The Teenage Cancer Trust, Kidney Care UK, Limbpower and Help for Heroes will be nominating people for Kelda to row for, and helping to create a network of support.
“I’m grateful to the team at Go Outdoors in Shrewsbury for their help with our March 10 event – the aim now is to raise awareness of the challenge as much as possible, to make sure it is on the radar of potential supporters and sponsors.”
Kelda is still on the lookout for sponsors, and mentors, to join her team, and hopes to raise more than £50,000 for Climbing Out, which will be used to rebuild confidence and self-esteem in young people.
She said: “I hope that Row to Raise will reach many young people that are currently feeling isolated and alone, give them hope, inspire them to contact support networks and begin to move forwards.”