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Karen Darke

Paralympic champion and charity fund raiser, Karen was a Silver Medallist in British Paracycling in London and won Gold at the Rio Olympics.  She is an inspirational character and accomplished motivational speakers who inspires her audiences to achieve their absolute best, whatever the circumstances!

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Motivational speaker Karen Darke believes that life is an exploration…an adventure to be enjoyed and learned from.

Karen could be described as a modern-day ‘Alchemist.’ In that she is a learning & development specialist turned mindset- heartset coach, explorer, athlete, speaker and author. Karen’s purpose is about helping individuals and organisations ‘Find Inner Gold.’ She focuses on turning challenge into opportunity, turning ‘mud’ into ‘gold’.


Karen started out as a geologist researching gold in the Bolivian Andes.  However, a life-changing accident that left her paralysed led her away from being a ‘rock-doctor.’ She went on to win Paralympic gold in the sport of Paralympic hand-cycling in Rio 2016. It was the 79th medal for Britain. As 79 is the elemental number for Gold, this led to Karen creating Quest 79. The project involves Karen cycling 7 continents in 9 iconic rides to raise £79K for Spinal Injuries.  Her aim is to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones.  She strives to help people discover passion, purpose, strength and other aspects of their ‘inner gold’.

She is a Guinness World Record holder for land speed by arm power. Karen has skied across icecaps and kayaked at extreme latitudes of the planet.  Furthermore, she has hand-cycled across the world’s biggest mountain ranges and alongside some of the longest rivers. These experiences, combined with unique studies of mind, resilience and performance, have led to helping people view life as an adventure.  In addition, she encourages people to embrace all experiences as opportunities to learn and grow. Karen has extensively studied what goes on `inside.’ She covers the power of the mind and language to positively impact emotions. Thus improving presence, performance and wellbeing.


Her first book, If You Fall, tells the story of her accident. The second, Boundless, is about her adventures in Greenland and climbing El Capitan. Then Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold is a collection of short stories positive psychology tips. “Karen’s captivating story shines a bright light on the meaning of challenge, and on the limitless capabilities of the human spirit.” Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer.


Karen has an MBE, a PhD in Geology. She also has MA’s in Development Training & High Performance Coaching, and Diploma’s in Clinical & Pastoral Counselling, Hypnotherapy & Motivational Coaching. Karen has been awarded honorary doctorates from The University of Aberdeen, Leeds, Cumbria, Sheffield Hallam and Abertay Universities. These have been in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions in adventure and sport.

Motivational speaking feedback

Karen is a superb motivational speaker and feedback includes:

“Karen was great and the talk was very well-received.” Alex Gough, Birmingham University – Post Graduate Researchers Professional Development online presentation 2021.

“Karen’s achievements are inspiring, awe-inspiring in fact, but just as impressive is her gift for connecting with people of all ages.  It is this connection that means that after some time spent with Karen, you feel not only that you’ve been on a journey with her, but that you can relate her experience to your own life and apply that to reaching your own potential.  It’s a compelling combo and we are honoured to have worked with Karen to share her story, her positivity and her wisdom with young people across Scotland as part of our Lockdown Live project.” R Tarves, Lockdown Live, e-Sgoil, 2021.

Thank you for recommending Karen she was wonderful. She was an inspiration to us all. Her talk was just what we were looking for. She was interesting, informative, motivating, funny but most of all inspirational. Our team left the meeting believing they could succeed at anything provided they had the right attitude.” Morag Henderson – Sales Manager – North OPM Division B Braun Medical Ltd.

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