Inspirational Friends was created by Hannah Lawton, in memory of Eleanor Ellis, a fellow rower and inspirational friend to Hannah, who at the age of 23 lost her life to Cervical Cancer. Elle was first diagnosed in the summer of 2010; surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy ensued until, in March 2011 Elle was given “2 good months and then a swift decline”. When faced with death, Elle showed an extraordinary spirit and courage which inspired everyone around her. Despite the doctors estimate Elle lived for 15 months. She lived every day like it was her last. Eleanor, Elle to her friends, was an inspiration to all those who knew her. She was charismatic, adventurous and lived her life to the full, taking on every challenge that came her way.
When it came to choosing the team name, Hannah threw literally hundreds of names around. She knew what she was trying to say and in the end it was obvious, it needed to be a simple name that spoke a thousand words…
“In our lives we meet many people, but only a few will make a lasting impression in our minds and hearts. When life throws challenges at me, it is my friends who stand by my side. They believe in me, even when I have stopped believing in myself. Friends are priceless. They make me push myself, they make me live for the moment, and they make me take risks. But most of all…they inspire me. Time waits for no one. Without my friends, I would still be waiting.” (Hannah Lawton, 2013)
In 2013, the first Inspirational Friends voyage across the Atlantic began…Following a year of preparation, training and sacrifice the 2013 Atlantic race began. Inspirational friends, the youngest female pair to ever attempt the crossing, began the 3000+ mile journey from La Gomera to Antigua. During their 96 days at sea, Inspirational Friends faced challenge after challenge. Not only were they faced with the mental and physical exertion of rowing the Atlantic, they also had to cope with auto-helm failure, compass failure, rudder failure, battery fire and a dangerous capsize. On the 96th day, they made the difficult decision, and called for assistance. Just 2 weeks from the finish line, their journey ended.
Team Inspirational Friends learnt a lot from their 2013 voyage across the Atlantic, most of all the importance of perseverance and courage, especially when things get tough.
“We set out to cross the Atlantic in memory of Eleanor Ellis, and cross the Atlantic we will.”
Therefore, in December 2016, Inspirational Friends will be taking to their oars once more, raising money for some incredible charities and crossing that finish line.
Since then Hannah has evolved Inspirational Friends, committing to do at least one big adventure a year with a friend and complementing it with various other small adventures and challenges. She has also taken part in various extreme adventure racing events, including a 4 day multi-discipline endurance race in Norway; trekked the Chemin de la Liberté, France, one of the toughest WW2 escape routes from Nazi-occupied France into Spain, in October 2016 she donned her trainers to do 3 marathons in 3 days along the coastal path in Cornwall and was joined by three of her friends and next year plans to cycling the Californian Coast.
“The great thing with an adventure is anyone can go on one. No matter who you are or what shape or size you are. You just need to say yes.” (Hannah Lawton)
For more information on this incredible challenge visit www.insfriends.org.uk