This cancer survivor just became the first woman to paddle board the English Channel solo

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Anna Brech
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“Nothing is better for self-esteem than survival” – so proclaimed the legendary adventurer Martha Gellhorn. 

It’s a sentiment we think environmentalist Lizzie Carr lives up to completely, after she became the first woman to stand-up paddle board the English Channel solo yesterday.

Carr, a cancer survivor, tackled strong currents, choppy waters and the busiest shipping lane in the world to paddle the 24-mile journey from Dungeness in England to Boulonge on the French coast.

She completed the astonishing feat in seven hours.

Carr, who undertook the mission to raise awareness of plastic waste in the ocean with the Plastic Petrol initiative, announced her success on Instagram.

“I DID IT!!” the elated pioneer wrote.

“I left Dungeness with two dolphins dancing round my board and finished in Bolougne with a Sea Lion staring me in the face - if that's not the sign of a great day then I don't know what is,” she added.

“To say I'm not nervous would be a lie,” Carr wrote on her blog, before she set out. “And whilst I've spent the last few months preparing for the challenging conditions I'll be facing, it's hard to shake off the feeling that this is beyond my ability.

 “… The moments of self-doubt and fear are becoming increasingly frequent.” 

But Carr is not one to shrink away from a challenge. She turned her life in a radical new direction four years ago, after being diagnosed with stage two cancer that had spread to her lymphatic system.

“When you’re faced with death, the reasons you want to live suddenly become overwhelmingly clear – and that’s what you fight for,” she wrote.

Carr underwent radiotherapy and later returned to her corporate job, but felt the same emptiness and boredom she had done before suffering from cancer.

“I decided drastic measures were needed and so I quit my job, “ she said. “I didn’t have a plan for the future but cancer, for all its downfalls, gave me the confidence to throw myself into everything whole-heartily and follow the life I imagined.”

This philosophy led not only to her successfully paddle boarding the Channel, but also completing an awe-inspiring pilgrimage across the 400-mile length of England’s waterways last year.

Carr picked up discarded plastic along the way, as well as collecting water samples for micro plastic analysis by Plymouth University.

 “The driving force for me has always been the bigger environmental story about plastic pollution and creating as much awareness about this as I can,” she tells Wired For Adventure.

Three cheers for her amazing effort. We know a hero when we see one…

Find out more about how you can get involved in the #PlasticPetrol initiative to save our environment here. Visit Lizzie’s blog here.

Images: Lizzie Carr Instagram


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.