She was once paralysed from the waist down – now Fiona tackles coast to coast hiking challenge

Fiona will be walking the width of Britain

Fiona will be walking the width of Britain - Credit: Archant

A woman who learned to walk again after suffering from a debilitating syndrome has begun her journey to scale the width of the country.

When she was 13, Fiona Llewellyn-Beard was struck down by Guillain Barre Syndrome – a condition that attacks the nervous system – and was left paralysed from the waist down.

By the time she reached sixth form, the Melbourn teen relied on a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her wanting to take part in expedition challenges with the guides.

Determined to get her Duke of Edinburgh gold award, she started off with the plan to undertake the challenge on a hand–cycle.

But after finding it too slow she learned to ride an upright bike with the help of her guiding friends.

The 24-year-old Cambridge graduate said: “I have been on an amazing journey to relearn to walk, and without the help and support of my guiding friends, I could never have come so far.”

Now Fiona has managed to build up the strength in her legs to such a degree that on Sunday she set off on a 15-day trek across the width of Britain to raise money for a guides trip to Peru.

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She said: “I hope that by completing my coast to coast journey, I can inspire other young women, and spread the word about how important girl guiding is in the lives of many girls.”

The Guiding Overseas Linked with Development – GOLD – Peru project will take place in August this year, when a team of six 18 to 30-year-old guiding members will travel to South America.

Fiona said: “Once in the country, we will be very busy training Peruvian members.

“We hope that we will really be able to make a big difference to Girl Scouts Peru, and enable many more young women to become involved.”

Fiona plans to go back to Cambridge this autumn to study for a doctorate in geology.

She is currently a guide leader, a Duke of Edinburgh Award supervisor, and an advanced first aider and cycle responder with St John Ambulance. To sponsor, visit