David Padgen
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David Padgen - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1993

I attended a 3 week 'summer standard' course courtesy of the 'Lifestart Challenge' - a partnership between the Outward Bound Trust and Barclays Bank. In the couple of years before the course I had been fortunate enough to become involved in disability sport (I have Cerebral Palsy) and had a lot of success as a Javelin thrower, and was due to head off to University in the Autumn.

While at a major competition a month before my course at Eskdale was due to start, I was sent home suffering from Chicken Pox. This made quite a dent in me, but I was determined to get through it and recover enough to go to Outward Bound. This I did, and although I was realistically still very debilitated from the illness, it marked a pivotal point in my life. It was probably the most exhausting and mindblowing 3 weeks of my life, and I continue to learn from the experiences.

I remember the 'jog and dip' challenge (I can't swim so was allowed to just run round the lake, jump in the water off the jetty and climb out again provided I had 'fully submerged'...), I remember the three expeditions, the rock climbing, raft-building and canoeing, I remember the zip-line and of course the high ropes. I was scared but my bravado wouldn't let me show it (I think I just about got away with it....) but I remember one of our group was terrified. Rather than getting frustrated with him and calling him names, all of our group and our instructor Steve patiently and gently encouraged him and eventually celebrated with him when he made it to the end.

But the ultimate Outward Bound moment for me came half-way through on the Solo. Spend 24 hours completely alone with basic rations, build your own shelter, sleep under it and come back knowing more about yourself than you realise. For me as a disabled person to be removed from my support networks and have to be completely self-reliant was life-changing..

A few months after the course, I was invited to a reception with some of the other young people benefiting from the Lifestart Challenge, and Prince Philip also attended. A few of us spoke about our experiences and I remember him roaring with laughter at some of our stories, before he spoke, very movingly and memorably, about Kurt Hahn, the Outward Bound Trust and what it means to him personally.

Since those three weeks at Eskdale, I have completed my degree. had a highly successful career as a high performance athlete, enjoyed a 22 year career in Sport Development, become a record setting mountaineer, recovered from a near fatal cycling accident and enjoyed a line of work as a motivational speaker. And so much of it stems from Outward Bound Eskdale.

As I continue to reflect I realise that I have been fortunate to have had a lot of incredible experiences. The learning I continue to enjoy comes from being able to apply the lessons learnt from those experiences.

Thank you.