Elin Haf Davies’ early years did not mark her out as a conqueror of oceans.

She grew up on a farm in the small village of Parc, in North Wales. It was close to the shores of Bala Lake, but she showed no interest in water sports.

The youngest of four children, she had an idyllic childhood surrounded by loving relatives and close friends. However, she always felt a need to travel beyond the confines of the Welsh hills.

There was no reason for the constant interest in escaping to explore the world. But that was how I felt, and there was nothing I could do to escape those feelings.
Elin is modest about her early academic achievements, but passed 11 GCSEs before leaving home to study for A Levels. She knew she wanted to be a children’s nurse, and moved to Bangor to study the subjects that would prepare her for her training.

She won a place at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, in London. But before starting the course, at the age of just 18, she flew to Lesotho, in Africa, as a volunteer for the charity Save the Children. She worked in an orphanage for four months but was terribly homesick and returned to Wales two months earlier than planned.

The experience was a significant milestone in my life, and I vowed then that I would never start anything else without committing to completing it, to the end.
Shortly after her arrival in London for her training as a nurse, Elin started playing for London Welsh Rugby Club. After just one season she was selected for the Welsh student squad and then selected for the senior A team.
It was a busy and exciting time in her life, as she juggled nursing training with rugby. She made close friends at the hospital and she also met a Royal Navy Petty Officer who she later married.

But seven years later, as she completed a degree in Neuroscience, she suffered deep disappointment. She was dropped from the Wales rugby squad and, at around the same time her marriage fell apart.

That proved to be a turning point in her life. She was determined to set herself a huge challenge. Even though she couldn’t row and had never been out to sea, she decided to row the Atlantic.

The challenge appealed so much that I could think of nothing else and the sense of thrill and apprehension filled my heart with more excitement than I had felt in years. I felt as though I was finally being given the ability, once more, to breathe.
Elin’s career continued to progress despite her spells away conquering the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.

She gained an MSc in Research Methods and then completed a PhD thesis on developing markers of neurological involvement in children with metabolic disorders. She is the author of many scientific papers and co-author of international clinical guidelines.

Elin later worked as a scientific advisor for the European Medicine Agency, advising and regulating on the development of drugs for children.

She has written books about her experiences, and is in demand as a guest speaker. Her accounts of battling the elements while rowing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans enthrall and inspire her audience.

Read more about Elin’s books and motivational talks


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