active-net 2019 annouce after dinner speaker – Kelda Wood

active-net has confirmed Atlantic rower and mental health campaigner, Kelda Wood, as the after dinner speaker for its two-day event at the end of March.

active-net is supporting Kelda’s 3,000 mile solo row across the Atlantic, encouraging delegates to engage in her epic row through following and sharing her journey.

Kelda’s taking on the 3,000 mile challenge with the aim of raising hope in young people facing physical or mental trauma. Each day she’s rowing on the ocean she will dedicate the day to a different young person, sharing their stories and links to relevant charities and organisations. As a result, she is hoping to reach many young people that are currently feeling isolated and alone, and give them hope and inspire them to contact support networks.

Unsupported at sea for two to three months, Kelda will be rowing up to 16 hours a day, surviving on freeze dried food, desalinated water and burning up to 6,000 calories a day.

David Monkhouse, Director of leading customer insight provider for the active leisure sector, Leisure-net, which organises the event says: “We are delighted to have Kelda join us as our after dinner speaker. She is a truly inspirational woman who has battled tirelessly against the odds. She embodies our theme for active-net 2019, which is all about inclusivity, diversity and equality.

“We want our delegates to follow and share Kelda’s journey and the incredible stories of the young people she is rowing for. We can’t predict when she’ll finish the race, or what state she will be in. It will be exciting for our delegates to follow and to track her journey. Will she make it back in time for active-net 2019? How will the race have affected her both physically and emotionally? She will certainly bring something very fresh and real to our event dinner and I can’t wait!”

active-net, now in its sixth year, will take place at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham on 27-28 March. As well as one-to-one buyer supplier meetings, the physical activity sector event will feature a strong educational element and networking programme. It is aimed at all operators and suppliers with a focus on the public sector, whether trusts, local authorities or universities/colleges.

In December 2018, Kelda Wood sets out on her solo row across the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whisky Challenge. Kelda will spend the entire voyage by herself, in her specially adapted ocean row boat named ‘Storm Petrel”.

Kelda says: “I’ve been on a huge journey myself since my own life changing injury in 2002; which left my left ankle fused with arthritis, with a high level of pain; a journey that’s included being a member of the GB Paracanoe Squad, setting up the charity ‘Climbing Out’ and summiting Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. I now want to give to others and help them 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!”

‘Climbing Out’, the charity that Kelda founded in 2010, runs outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self-esteem in young people who have faced life changing injury, illness or trauma. The charity works with young people aged 16-30, who have faced cancer, kidney disease, bullying, bereavement or abuse, hearing impairments, survivors of terrorist attacks, life changing injuries, transitioning elite athletes, liver disease etc.

The programmes offer a wide range of activities including climbing, gorge scrambling, kayaking, hill walking, abseiling and raft building. All the activities are bespoke to the needs and capabilities of individual participants, so everyone can take part and have a go. She hopes to raise over £50,000 for Climbing Out through her Row to Raise campaign.

Monkhouse says: “We have donated the after dinner fee to the Row to Raise campaign, and in addition we’d like our delegates to nominate young people, that have faced hardship and trauma that Kelda can dedicate her journey to.”

Wood concludes: “I’m so looking forward to the stories that come from the active-net delegates. The stories, I’m sure will help to lift my spirits. I’ve been training hard at the gym to get really strong for this race but I have no idea how I’m going to cope being away from family, friends and my dogs for such a long-time. I’m hoping to draw strength from all the young people and their stories and to show them that a life changing trauma doesn’t mean it’s life-ending.”

For further information/bookings and to nominate an exceptional young person contact Kirsty Reed at Leisure-net by emailing or visiting If you would like further information about Kelda’s journey and to read some of the young people’s inspiring stories visit

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