Gorleston woman battles pain to complete rowing challenge

Paula Woolnough who suffers from arthritis fibromyalgia and mental helath issues takes part in a one

Paula Woolnough who suffers from arthritis fibromyalgia and mental helath issues takes part in a one hour rowing challenge. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A woman with disabilities defied the odds to conquer a rowing challenge.

Paula Woolnough, 46, from Gorleston, who suffers from arthritis and fibromyalgia, has to get around either in a electric wheelchair or with the help of a stick.

And a day before the challenge she suffered a fall which she says should have stopped her from taking part.

However, she battled through the pain, and rowed a total of six miles using a gym rowing machine.

In the process she raised up to £200 for charity, which is to be split between the Gorleston and Great Yarmouth Arthritis Club and the disability rehabilitation charity Life Take Two.


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Mrs Woolnough who completed the challenge at the Bwell Gym on the Harfreys Industrial Estate said: 'I was diagnosed when I was 27 years old and today I never wake up knowing what kind of day it will be.

'The Fibromyalgia causes a lot of pain and fatigue. On the easier days I can use a stick to help me get around the house and there are days when my condition is really bad and I have to be in an electric wheelchair.

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'I first rowed at the gym about three weeks ago and I joked with Lisa who runs the Life Take Two charity that I could do this for a challenge.

'From there it became something serious, and to raise money for the two charities spurred me on.'

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterised by muscular pain and causes fatigue.

Mrs Woolnough spent three weeks in preparation for the challenge, in which the longest she was able to row was for 20 minutes.

She was however confident she could achieve the hour mark. A day before the challenge she suffered a fall at home, and it looked as though she might have to cancel.

She said: 'I was in a lot of pain. I suffered some bruising to my leg and really I should have cancelled it.

'I have had overwhelming support from family and friends and I didn't want to give up.

'I have got a bad right leg and left ankle. When I do the rowing I have to really use my left leg more to push me. Ideally though I would swap my ankles as my right ankle is perfect and would have made it a whole lot easier.

'The most I had ever rowed beforehand was 20 minutes so I was really overjoyed to reach the hour mark, but I am definitely feeling the effects now.'

Mrs Woolnough lives in Gorleston with her husband Ian, who is also her carer, and together they have two grown up children.

Cheering her on through her challenge, was her friends and family including mum, dad, sister and nephew.

'Due to my condition I can't just sit down as that weakens the muscles, I have to undergo regular gentle exercise as that helps me a lot.'

'It was great to have them all by my side. I am going to take a bit of a break now while I recuperate and then maybe I will come up with something else.

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