A quick Google search for Kiko Matthews will return a plethora of news articles about ‘British woman breaks Atlantic rowing record months after neurosurgery’. Kiko’s story is an inspirational guide for people who want to live extraordinary lives and a true testament to what the human spirit is capable of.
Kiko recovered from having two tumours removed to row 3,284-miles across the Atlantic Ocean. She has now sets her sights on showing others how to build resilience through a series of motivational talks by sharing her journey.
Templar recently had the pleasure of working with Kiko on refining her message for aspiring leaders and sharing the lessons she learnt.
“I want to use my story to inspire women to challenge themselves. My talks are about how to build resilience as this is something I have developed through the journey I’ve had. It’s also about leadership, and how both of these combined, I believe, got me to achieve my world record. My talk is very honest, authentic and apparently (accidentally) funny.
I show others they can achieve whatever they want, given the desire. I believe that set backs are easier to overcome when we have other things to focus on especially challenges and have purpose. It’s really powerful and produces a higher likelihood of success.
Hugo Jackson used my personality and story to create a really interesting, inspiring and useful talk. It’s exactly what I needed. He helped me structure my talk and make it suitable for all levels and groups. It’s really changed things for me.”
“I was a science teacher at the time but I never clicked with the teaching/school structure. Before I made any changes, I became seriously ill with Cushing’s disease caused by a tumour on my pituitary gland and nearly died,” she explains. Symptoms included diabetes, psychosis, muscle wasting, insomnia, memory loss and osteoporosis.
A year later, Kiko committed to live a life of passion and ended up in Uganda, and on a paddle-board in the middle of the Nile. On her return to the UK, she channeled this love for sport by setting up a charity and business. Kiko wasn’t out of the woods yet – sadly in 2016 she found herself back in hospital.
Attitude and Belief
“In August 2016 I had to have another tumour removed because it had become apparent that the disease had returned. The very next month I decided that rowing the Atlantic would be a great idea and that I would do this solo and attempt to break the world record.”
Kiko only slept in two hour blocks and spent 16 hours rowing each day but in the end she crossed the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to Barbados in 49 days, beating the previous record by seven days. Another feat was raising over £98,000 for London’s King’s College Hospital to help build a new intensive care unit and give back to the hospital that saved her life.
“Kiko is an amazingly inspirational person. She is not just remarkable for what she has achieved, but for the wisdom that she has acquired and shares with others. Anyone who hears Kiko speak will get real insight on what it is to lead a life well-lived. – Hugo Jackson
If you would like to donate to Kiko’s journey to raise funds for Kings College, please visit her Just Giving page.