Day 35 – Walking With The Wounded

Laura Penhaul By

Day 35 – Walking With The Wounded

99.5% of the time out here I can definitely say I am absolutely loving the journey and the challenges we face. The majority of the time I have a permanent smile on my face or I’m crying tears of laughter.

Yesterday for me though for some reason I woke in a reflective mood and sitting in the second position on the oars gave me a 2hr shift to be in my own little bubble. I suddenly started to reflect on the reasons why we are here, why I persevered for the last 4 years and why I’ve put my family & friends through the stress of supporting me through it. The thought brought tears to my eyes and I slowly started to sob my way through the 2hr shift. I was thinking of Rashid and Yasin and how they lost the love of their life and mother respectively, to breast cancer just 3 years ago, just 6 months after Yasin was born. I was thinking of Kate Philp who lost her leg after being hit by an AED at war and had to go through not just the rehab of learning to walk with a prosthetic, but to learn how to live a new life, a new image that she hadn’t planned for.

I was thinking of some of the patients and athletes I have worked with in my physio career and those stories that are so impactful for me; like an 18 year old female who was in a car accident and her boyfriend dies next to her whilst she survives but is left with a C6/7 (neck) complete spinal cord injury. This 18 year old has gone on to be a Gold medal Paralympian and is one of the strongest, most determined females I have met and she astounds me with her amazing attitude to life. I could go on and on, listing men and women that I have met in my life and my career. Whether it’s their attitude or the strength of love shared in their family and friends, it’s the belief that they can go on to achieve or to recreate a new life journey after they’ve faced a life changing experience and maintain a positive attitude, that I find so inspiring. This is why I love Walking With The Wounded.

WWTW create a support network for those who have been injured at war, they provide pathways to re-educate and retrain service personnel, to help them create a new life journey. I became aware of WWTW when Martin Hewitt, who I’d worked with through GB disabled skiing, got taken on the Harry’s Arctic Heroes expedition to the North Pole. Martin was ex-parachute regiment who’d been shot in the arm and was left with a right arm paralysis. The aim of the expedition was for it to be the first team of injured personnel to reach the North Pole. Seeing Martin achieve that and what he has gone on to achieve since then, really highlighted to me what opportunities WWTW create. Like the Paralympians that I work with, WWTW look beyond the disability and focus on the abilities of the individual. They encourage participation in events which will create a physical and mental challenge, so that when they overcome this they have a new confidence in their abilities.

It is being fortunate to have been exposed and surrounded by people with such a strength in mental ability, that it has always made me question my own capabilities. I, like the other girls, realise that we are so lucky to be healthy, fit, have loving family and friends around us and to have the opportunity to be able to do what we’re doing here in the Pacific, that it is for this reason that I believe we face any small challenge we have with humour or banter, because without a doubt, there are certainly millions of people that cope with a lot more than what we’re facing.

Tomorrow the Ride of the Lions and Waterloo 200 starts, these are cycling events that have been organised by WWTW and participants will be injured veterans and supporters of the charity. If we were there we’d be riding along too, but instead we’ll be rowing the waves of the Pacific in supporting from afar. If you’re in London and would like to support the riders please see their website for more details.



  1. Andrea Herr says:

    What an amazing post Laura!! It’s a very beauitiful thing when going through one’s own challenges and discomfort, you can think of other people with the utmost empathy, who have been victorious in overcoming their own life-challenges!! Strong women, you all are!!!

  2. Babs and Ray says:

    We are so proud of our daughter and the other girls , this blog shows the dedication and reasons why they are putting their bodies and minds through such challenging times. Everyday they are getting nearer to their goal, I hope people will keep supporting them. Keep safe girls and definitely keep smiling. Xx

    • Jan R says:

      Kudos to you! Also the parents deserve great credit for what their children have become in life, what they are achieving, and the difference they are making for the world. This powerful post was just an example of their character. These women never stop amazing me!
      Greetings from Dubai!

  3. JG says:

    Well done Laura – amazing girl.

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    Laura and all you ladies have huge hearts. Your post was so heart breaking/warming. Although your efforts are aimed at specific charities and gender, the whole world benefits from such wonderful people as you. Courageous, generous, decent human beings. Please stay safe and keep that fantastic momentum that you are currently enjoying. XX

  5. Oli says:

    Great post, really fantastic. Am sharing it with all the guys in Baku who think you lot are amazing!

  6. Dawn says:

    Wow Laura a very emotional and powerful post.
    You ladies are showing everyone that you can achieve the impossible whatever the odds.
    Stay strong, be safe and calm seas xxx

  7. mike says:

    Laura you have nailed it. Amazing post. Great attitude. Keep strong & safe.

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