Karen Darke

Doctor of Education, 2017

Luckily I’ve got an adventurous gene, as life in a wheelchair is full of the unexpected

Karen Darke is one of the UK’s most inspirational athletes.

She’s a Paralympian, an adventurer, an author and of course an honorary graduate of Abertay University.

But her amazing rise to prominence was sparked by something quite tragic. When she was just 21-years-old she fell off a cliff while sea-climbing, leaving her paralysed from the chest down.

However, that didn’t stop her and she’s gone on to live an incredible life.

In 2006 she took part in an expedition which saw her cross Greenland’s ice cap. It’s a 372 mile journey, and she completed it by sitting on skis and using poles to pull herself along.

That only whetted her appetite for adventure. She’s climbed El Capitan, Mont Blanc and Matterhorn, she’s hand cycled, skied and swam the length of Japan…oh, and she’s a Paralympic medallist.

In 2012 she won silver at the London games. In 2016 she went one better, winning gold.

Her achievements have led to further recognition, and an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours list for her incredible services to sport. 

Karen Darke

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