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An inspiring speech from a Paralympic Gold Medallist


Who is Pamela Relph?

Pam is a member of the GB Paralympic Rowing Team. She has suffered from a condition called psoriatic arthritis from the age of 7, resulting in severe and permanent damage to some of her joints. Undeterred by her condition, at the age of 16 Pam made the decision to forge a career with the British Army, attended military sixth form college and then gained a scholarship to the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme.

This saw her attend the University of Birmingham, attaining her undergraduate degree in Physics whilst continuing with her military training under the Royal Engineer Regiment. It was during this time that Pam’s condition worsened and it became clear to the Army medical board that she would not be a suitable candidate for a military career. This ‘condition’ which had uprooted Pam’s life and livelihood would turn out to be the thing that would open up the opportunity to compete as a disabled athlete.

It was a severe blow to be medically discharged from her army career, but as one door closed another door opened in the form of the GB Paralympic Rowing Team. Pam’s older sister Monica had been representing Great Britain as an able-bodied rower for several years and made para-rowing aware of Pam’s situation. They contacted her and within a week she had been classified to compete as a Paralympic. A new career had begun.

What’s Pamela’s speech all about?

Initially struggling to come to terms with the idea of having a disability, in 2010 Pam embarked on a career in sport and had her own misconceptions challenged about what it meant to be disabled and her eyes opened to the phenomenon that is Paralympic sport.

Fast forward to 2012 and remarkably Pam won gold at the London Olympics along with her crew James, Dave, Naomi and coxswain Lily. In just 18 months Pam had gone from taking her first ever rowing stroke to achieving a definitive career highlight at her home Olympics. Pam’s story is one of triumph against the odds. Since then she has remained unbeaten in 6 years of international competition culminating in a wonderful further gold in Rio 2016. Pam is the most successful Paralympic Rower in the world and the only para-rower from any nation to have won 2 Paralympic golds.

The story, of course, is not all medals and success. Pam shares her journey through pre London, to the 4 year cycle between London 2012 and Rio 2016 and the ups and downs that are synonymous with life as an international athlete but so applicable to everyday life and business. A tale of under-performance and how it was turned around, not through more training but through learning more about each member of the crew and finding a way to work in harmony when under the most immense pressure.

The lessons Pam shares are surrounding the topics of learning how to communicate and perform when under pressure, bringing to light the differences in approach required with a mixed gender team of unique personalities and personal goals. Pam has an open and honest approach to telling her story and it helps to break down barriers and stereotypes around such themes as gender, teamwork, performance and disability.

Pam’s speech will take 45 – 60 minutes and is tailored to fit with your key messages. Click below for more information on the speech process and optional workshops to ensure your delegates can immediately begin to apply the ideas.

Find out more about our speech offering


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