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A Conversation With Lucy Keyworth

This International Women’s Day we wanted to speak to someone who truly inspires us and continues to try make a change in the world. Enjoy our conversation with Lucy Keyworth.

Hey Lucy, want to give us an intro?  

 I’m Lucy, Outdoor lover, Paraclimber and dog mum! I am currently working for an awesome not for profit called Experience Community, here I get to share my love of the outdoors with other disabled people, instruct sessions, and challenge some of the barriers disabled people face when accessing outdoor spaces. When not in work, you will normally find me up a climbing wall or at a crag in the Peak District with my dog Buzz.  


Tell us a bit about how your climbing journey started?  

I have always loved adventure sports. Fortunately, growing up in the Scouts meant I had access to all sorts of awesome opportunities such as attending the World Scout Jamboree in Japan at the age of 15. In 2019, I went backpacking around Australia with some friends I met through Scouts. I have a rare neuromuscular condition and had just spent 2 months in hospital extremely unwell but decided I wasn’t going to miss out and headed to Australia after only being out of hospital several weeks. The friends I was traveling with both worked as outdoor instructors at the time, so I had no choice but to try climbing while I was away. I absolutely loved it. It gave me this overwhelming sense of freedom that I hadn’t experience before. When I returned home, I decided to take up the sport and starting training almost every day. 4 years later, I became National Champion in the women’s RP1 category and was selected to join the GB Climbing team. I noticed there was a lack of opportunities for disabled people to access indoor and outdoor climbing. I was desperate to do something about this, so in 2021 during Lockdown founded Leeds Paraclimbing Club. An inclusive climbing club that gives disabled people the chance to try climbing and adventure sports in a safe supported environment.  

Where did the idea to set up Leeds Paraclimbing Club come from? 

After taking up climbing, I quickly realised I didn’t know any other disabled climbers. When I rolled into a climbing gym or climbed outside, I never felt like I was represented and often the only visible disabled climber. That lead me to question why disabled people where not represented in climbing, adventure sports and the outdoor community. Desperate to find other disabled climbers, I founded Leeds Paraclimbing Club to give disabled people the opportunity to climb and experience the mental and physical benefits of climbing and adventure sports. In our first 12 months we managed to get 100 new people into climbing, run several outdoor trips, canoe the length of lake Windermere and work with multiple climbing centres to look at how they can become more inclusive.  


Who’s your source of inspiration? 

 As a kid, I was obsessed with the TV Show Blue Peter. I was influenced heavily by the presenter Helen Skelton who appeared on the show from 2008 to 2013. Watching a strong female figure tackle some amazing challenges gave me the motivation to try new things and head outdoors. I still remember gripping the edge of my seat when watching her became the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile Namibian ultra-marathon and kayak the entire length of the river Amazon. As I have grown up, her amazing achievements have stayed with me and inspired me to go on and set my own challenges no matter how big or small.  


What are you most proud of? 

I am probably most proud of the awesome climbers that have come to Leeds Paraclimbing Club sessions over the past 2 years. Each one of them is giving something new and challenging ago and changing the perception of what it means to have a disability.  

 If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be? 

I would change the way disabled people are viewed. Society often puts barriers in place to stop disabled people reaching their potential. As a disabled woman these barriers are often increased.  If society was to acknowledge these barriers and challenge it, we would have a more inclusive world.  


What are your plans for the rest of the year? And how can people help?  

I have several plans and goals for the next year. I recently took up sit skiing, so want to continue improving my skills and head to the mountains again. In addition, the plan is to try another new sport. I am hoping to give water-skiing ago with an amazing organisation called Access Adventures who taught me how to ski over in Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. I am hoping to keep growing Leeds Paraclimbing Club and challenging some of the barriers disabled people face. If you head to a climbing centre or outdoor venue and it doesn’t seem accessible to disabled people, then one way you can help is by challenging it and being a voice for the community.  

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