Inspirational Friends was created by Hannah Lawton, in memory of Eleanor Ellis, a fellow rower and inspirational friend to Hannah, who at the age of 23 lost her life to Cervical Cancer. Elle was first diagnosed in the summer of 2010; surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy ensued until, in March 2011 Elle was given “2 good months and then a swift decline”. When faced with death, Elle showed an extraordinary spirit and courage which inspired everyone around her. Despite the doctors estimate Elle lived for 15 months. She lived every day like it was her last. Eleanor, Elle to her friends, was an inspiration to all those who knew her. She was charismatic, adventurous and lived her life to the full, taking on every challenge which came her way.
When it came to choosing the team name, Hannah threw literally hundreds of names around. She knew what she was trying to say and in the end it was obvious, it needed to be a simple name that spoke a thousand words…
“In our lives we meet many people, but only a few will make a lasting impression in our minds and hearts. When life throws challenges at me, it is my friends who stand by my side. They believe in me, even when I have stopped believing in myself. Friends are priceless. They make me push myself, they make me live for the moment, and they make me take risks. But most of all…they inspire me. Time waits for no one. Without my friends, I would still be waiting.” (Hannah Lawton, 2013)
It was in December 2013 Hannah would take on her biggest adventure yet, an attempt to complete a transatlantic row from La Gomera, Canary Isles to Antigua, Caribbean. Unfortunately, after countless equipment failures, Inspirational Friends was forced to retire a mere two weeks from the finish. Since then Hannah has evolved Inspirational Friends, committing to do at least one big adventure a year with a friend and complementing it with various other small adventures and challenges. In December 2016 she hopes to take to the oars once more and go out to complete the transatlantic row. She has also taken part in various extreme adventure racing events, including a 4 day multi-discipline endurance race in Norway; trekked the Chemin de la Liberté, France, one of the toughest WW2 escape routes from Nazi-occupied France into Spain, in October 2016 she’s donning her trainers to do 3 marathons in 3 days along the coastal path in Cornwall and will be joined by three of her friends and next year plans to cycling the Californian Coast.
“The great thing with an adventure is anyone can go on one. No matter who you are or what shape or size you are. You just need to say yes.” (Hannah Lawton)