Introducing Neil Wightwick. Neil knows a thing or two about adventure and pushing the body and mind to reach a finish line that is never certain.
Now the head of Blairvadach outdoor education centre on the west coast of Scotland, a decade back Neil was part of a four-strong team who rowed across the Atlantic, from the Canaries to Antigua, placing second in a momentous race fraught by severe weather.
Incredibly, Neil had never rowed before he decided to take part. In his words “We were one of the best prepared teams on the starting line, and ironically it was because we’d known the least when we signed up”. Perhaps a transferable principle to many areas of life.
We caught up right outside Blairvadach, which was a fresh change from the studio. You’ll need to excuse the odd seabird and speed boat zooming past us – Scottish authenticity!
I was in awe over Neil’s capacity for continuously developing new outdoor skills and taking on wildly different adventures and expeditions. He has not confined himself to adapting to one type of struggle alone but has spread his wings and taken himself firmly out of his comfort zone again and again. He lives and breathes learning and is an incredible advocate for young people.
We talk about:
- His mental preparation and training for the ocean row, and the struggle before the start line
- Gaining sponsorship for expeditions such as ocean rowing
- The toll the expedition took on his mind and body
- Stunning encounters with marine wildlide
- Racing against James Cracknell and Ben Fogle
- The contrasting experience of running across the Kalahari desert
- His mountaineering adventures, and the risks in the mountains but also everyday life
- Surviving the car crash that paralysed his friend and partner in adventure
- What life is like working in outdoor education and mentoring young people
Good luck to Neil as he travels down a new path of taking on an MBA! And a big thanks to Andy Taylor for recommending Neil as an awesome guy to chat to.
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