On 11 May last year my Mum drove me to Godalming in Surrey – the starting point for my 400-mile paddle boarding expedition – and waved me goodbye as I drifted down the River Wey embarking on what would become, unbeknownst to me, the greatest adventure of my life.
I had announced my intention to her and a handful of close friends just a few weeks earlier and their reaction, as I suspected, was mainly concern. Me, a solo female, paddle boarding the length of England’s waterways and wild camping every night, was almost impossible for them to grasp. But, despite their reservations, I received nothing but support and encouragement for my little mission from the outset.
At the time, I could have neither planned nor anticipated starting that journey would lead me to where I am now. Within a few days it had been picked up by TV, radio and print newspapers both in the UK and internationally. What started as a personal crusade against plastic pollution with a few curious friends tracking my route became a journey that thousands of readers all over the world followed on my blog.
I had no idea that my overwhelming desire to do something - (anything!) - other than simply sit back and ignore the issue of plastic pollution as I paddled on the waterways everyday, would change my life so dramatically in the space of a single year.
Both starting my blog and preparing for that paddle boarding challenge gave me a renewed sense of purpose after my cancer diagnosis. It sparked something inside me that had been lost and, for the first time in what felt like forever, I could see my life coming back into focus again.
My blog - and everything that it stands for - has become my greatest joy and most profound source of personal growth. It’s given me a platform to express myself and share what I’m passionate about. It’s given me confidence, happiness and freedom to be wholeheartedly me and has evolved into a huge part of my life. It provides me with the sense of meaning I longed for, but struggled to find, before its inception.
The countless emails and messages I have received from people who have joined me on this journey so far chokes me with gratitude. From the man who shared photos of his family SUP adventure through England last summer, to the lady who, after being diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, told me that my blog gave her hope, through to the recovering alcoholic who emailed me this morning to share his own paddle boarding journey and how it also changed his life.
I struggle to express the overwhelming gratitude I have for the privilege I have been granted, and I’m so unbelievably appreciative for every single person who has been part of this surreal but incredible adventure so far.
I am deeply in love with my life and feel, after a few years of living in black and white, that the colour has come back. I’m hugely excited to see where this journey leads and remain so grateful to have you all alongside me and as part of this adventure.
Thank you! x