Positive action despite adversity

Nick, Pa and Charlotte

The past few years have been eventful for Pa Arding.

In the wake of her last incident she is still working her way through a long recovery but it’s not getting in the way of her crusade to clean up our oceans. Fortunately, Charlotte Farrer, recently appointed as a personal assistant, is also passionate about the cause working with Plastic Free Totnes and they are working together on the campaign: Pa’s Inspiration: Well being and the Environment.

Incident number one…

When I arrive at our meeting in Ben’s Tapas, Pa and Charlotte are assessing some very attractive circular logo designs. It’s fair to say that Pa is a physical, outdoor type. 30 years ago she was a point to point jockey. But 11 years ago, working on her deer farm on the moors, tying up a huge silage bale, the 1 tonne bale rolled on top of her. She spent the next 5 hours crushed beneath it through which time Pa thought she was going to die. During the following 5 days in intensive care, she came dangerously close. Pa’s right leg is now pinned causing a limp.

Big event number 2

3 years ago during a skiing break, she had the misfortune of having another skier crash directly into her striking her head. This led to 3 weeks in a coma. On being re-awakened, Pa could only enunciate three words;”You”, “Will” and “Rich”. To her deep annoyance, she found no-one could understand her. She was under the impression that she was as eloquent as ever. She wasn’t. The accident had caused severe brain damage and partial paralysis. Whilst she could still think reasonably clearly, the damage to the ‘broca’s area’ of her brain meant she could no longer access language normally. Over the last few years Pa has been working with a speech therapist re-building her ability to speak with considerable success. As she talks, clearly and well, every now and again the word she wants just doesn’t come, causing her to pause as she tries to find it. Neural pathways are being re-directed and it’s a slow process but over time Pa continues to regain her fluency.

At the time of the accident, Pa was a course director at Battle-Back. A project by the British Legion to support wounded, injured and sick service personnel helping them re-habilitate to civilian life. Following the accident Pa was asked to continue with the programme but she found her lack of ability too frustrating to continue.

A new cause.

After her first accident, Pa’s husband ex Royal Marine Nick, suggested she joined him in his passion for sea kayaking as part of the process aiding recovery. The action of paddling proved very helpful and led on to the conservation project. They met Falmouth based filmmaker Greg Dennis who was inspired by Pa’s story and wanted to film their next expedition to the Isles of Scilly highlighting how her project set’s out to raise awareness and organise clean-up excursions and raising money for the Marine Conservation Society. They also plan to arrange workshops with teachers, schools and healthcare workers to develop resiliance and self confidence.

What can you do to help?

The obvious one is to pick up plastic when visiting the beach, but as important is to talk to others and continue to raise awareness of the dangers of plastics in our seas. One major problem they wanted to highlight is wet-wipes which are environmentally disastrous. They are marketed as ‘flushable’ however they do not break down like paper, due to the plastic content. The goverment have proposed a ban but we need to all stop using them right now! They also wanted to point out the problem with ‘nurdles‘. A very cute name for small plastic pellets that are creating a big problem. They attract and collect harmful bacterias and break down, often to be mistaken for food by marine animals which cannot be digested.

Watch the film:

LOOKING OUT from Greg Dennis on Vimeo.


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