Thursday, March 07, 2013

From anorexia to oars

I’m always hugely inspired by anyone who raises money for charities they feel passionately about, whether that’s jumping out of aeroplanes, running marathons for Mind or walking a mile for Motor Neurone Disease. My own best friend ran a gruelling 12 miles last February for BEAT to show her support for my own recovery from anorexia. (It still gives me goose bumps when I think about it!)

But to me, it is even more inspirational when someone overcomes their own battle with an eating disorder and goes on to raise money to help other people and raise awareness. So, how can you top overcoming personal adversity to get stuck in with fundraising I hear you ask? Well, 

How about smashing a rowing first too? 

Eight women from Oxford University’s Corpus Christi College Boat Club are preparing to do just that. 

In June they’ll be rowing an arm-aching 180km from Oxford to London to raise money for Eating Disorders Charity, BEAT. They are the first female crew to give it a go. However, not all of these super-women were always as strong. 

At 13 years old Esther Rich (pictured centre front) was battling anorexia nervosa, a year later she was in the grips of the illness and at 15 years old was admitted as an inpatient at an eating disorder unit in Stoke on Trent. 

She explains; “My illness was triggered mainly by friendship breakdowns, which left me wanting to be invisible, it really set in at 14.”  After nine tough months fighting Esther was discharged from the service. 

Now, aged 19 and fully recovered, she is a second year psychology student at Oxford University and plans on becoming a Clinical Psychologist. She told me she’s passionate about giving back; “I want to help those in the same situation I was in. I have also just secured a supervisor to allow me to write my final year dissertation on the causes and treatment of eating disorders.” 

She added; “I now volunteer as a Young Ambassador for Beat, which involves raising awareness, speaking at conferences, talking to current inpatients about recovery and fundraising for the charity to continue their amazing work.” 

Esther, happier and healthier.
Esther, who rows at bow (the position best suited to her 5ft2 frame, I'm told!) and the rest of the CCBC crew are pushing their bodies to the limit to raise as much money as they can for BEAT, setting themselves a target of £10,000. A sum of money which could raise a lot more awareness of eating disorders and provide support and advice for sufferers, their family and friends. 

As they hit the water to build strength for their challenge, they’ve coined to motto:

‘We will push our bodies to the limits to stop eating disorder sufferers from doing the same.’ 

They hope to show others that you can overcome the grips of an eating disorder and go on to be healthy, strong and to help others. Tell me, how can you get more inspirational than that?


The ladies will be hitting the water between 23rd - 26th June 2013 and you can sponsor Esther and the crew via their Just Giving page here: 

If you want to know more about eating disorders or are worried about a loved one, get in touch with BEAT or Team Recovery for support. 

1 comment:

Sarah Bayes said...

How wonderful to have recovered and moved on so successfully. Correct help is crucial. Let's hope this raises awareness and provision. Brave girls. Good luck Crew