Helena suffers from complex knee pain and has made fantastic progress through rowing. At the beginning, spending five minutes on a rowing machine was a challenge.

Helena told us in her own words, what LYR and rowing have helped her achieve. And, we're pretty inspired.

I had always wanted to try rowing as I used to kayak. It was a kayaking injury that gave me my disability - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in my right leg.

I heard about disability rowing through a fellow CRPS sufferer who rows in Scotland. So I did some research in September 2016 and found out about the facilities at the Royal Docks, where I took part in a taster session with the Royal Dolphins Rowing Club, otherwise known as the Headway Rowing Group. It was here that I was introduced to Jenny and Maurice from London Youth Rowing (LYR). Rowing seemed to be the perfect replacement for kayaking.

When I started rowing I was in a wheelchair and couldn't leave the house on my own. I had lost my confidence socially too.

Carefully guided by Maurice and Jenny I picked up the skills needed for rowing. My confidence started to grow. I had a new group of friends and was (weather dependent) back in a boat.

Rowing helped normalise weight bearing on my leg. My disability started to improve each week; I was able to do a little bit more on a rowing machine. Soon enough I was back on my feet.

 

Helena stands on one leg to showcase physical improvement

 

With the help of Jenny, Maurice and the Royal Dolphins I became strong enough and confident enough in less than a year to row the Great River Race. This was an absolutely amazing experience. If it wasn't for the guidance of Jenny and Maurice at LYR I wouldn't have been able to do it.

 

The Headway Disability Rowing Group before the Great Race

 

My rowing journey means I have been able to apply to university without having to worry about needing a wheelchair. I am starting at the University of Gloucestershire, studying Education Studies this month (September 2017).

Rowing has ultimately given me the confidence that I can do anything even though I have CRPS.