Travel agency owner Bridget Keevil set off last August on the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, raising money for Abta LifeLine. Sadly, eight months into the race, she was injured during the sixth leg of eight and has just returned home early.
Q: Are you glad you took part?
A: Yes. I’ve made some friends for life, who were devastated I had to leave. The calibre of my teammates made the whole experience better. I’m not a very good sailor but somehow I had a place in that crew. I could still pick up the last two legs during the 2017-18 race. At the moment, I don’t feel that’s something I will do, but never say never.
I could also rejoin the current race in Southend to go up the Thames. I’ve had an operation to reattach my rotator cuff to the bone and the recovery period is up to six months, so I’ll have to see how it goes. I am happy to be home on one hand, but devastated on the other. It’s three months too early.
Q: Would you recommend others to take part?
A: It’s extremely hard, both physically and mentally, and needs a lot of commitment. It would be a fantastic achievement to complete it. You eat, sleep and sail and there is no respite. You have to adapt to having only a few hours’ sleep a night – a lot of the crew struggled with this because of the noise. Sometimes the trip felt never-ending, but sometimes it was truly wonderful.
Q: What have been the highest and lowest points?
A: One of the high points was winning the Sydney to Hobart race, one of the most famous yacht races in the world. Low points came and went, usually when I felt very sorry for myself sitting on deck cold and wet.
When I was injured it was one of the most frightening things that has happened to me. Waves hit us from two different angles and I was thrown down into the cage around the wheel. At first my head was almost underwater and I couldn’t move. The cage had to be winched off me. My face and head were badly cut and I had huge bruises on my legs. I didn’t find out until I got to Seattle that I had chipped my humerus in two places, had a fracture and had torn my rotator cuff.
Q: Do you feel like the experience has changed you?
A: I’m still adjusting to the fact that I won’t be carrying on – I don’t feel ready to be home. The people around me are more likely to notice a difference in me. I hope, if I have changed, it’s for the better.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to those who have been supporting you?
A: I have a huge debt of gratitude to those that have been following and supporting me. The messages I’ve had have raised my spirits no end. I want to say thank you to everyone who has donated too – it is making a very worthwhile total. I’m hoping to go with my family and see my crew mates in New York.
Q: How did your travel agencies get on in your absence?
A: I’ve popped in to say hello but now I’m at home recovering. The branches have had a very successful year.
1991: Opened the first Travel Stop branch, in Elmswell, Suffolk.
Two more agencies followed, in Claydon and Hadleigh, also in Suffolk.
Rising to a challenge
• Believe you can do any- thing if you put your mind to it – because you can.
• In the workplace, never let a challenge seem too big, you can overcome it.
• Approach the challenge one step at a time, in bite-sized pieces.
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