Penny Knight's beautiful world
In the first instalment of my new blog series, where I delve into the lives of inspirational women, I would love to introduce you to Penny Knight. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Penny last July when she was a leader for my trek in Transylvania. I took part in an incredible 6 day adventure to raise money for the breast cancer education charity CoppaFeel, and Penny led my team through alpine forests, steep climbs and to the summit of a mountain. She has a very inspiring story and such a wonderful outlook on life. So I welcome you into Penny's beautiful world....
Tell me a little about yourself and what you do for your profession?
As a child I was always outside and helping Dad with any physical and manual jobs on the house and in the garden. I joined the British Army in 1985 and did my training as the first intake of females to do officer training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. After a lecturing career training young people to join the military and emergency services, I qualified as an Outdoor Instructor. Working with different groups and in a wide range of activities, I then trained other instructors before becoming an Overseas Expedition Leader with Charity Challenge. I love more than anything to be with groups of people challenging ourselves in wild environments. I have worked with Charity Challenge now for 10 years leading trips on horseback, foot and mountain bikes and have been lucky enough to visit all but one continent in the World.
What little things in life make you smile and brighten your day?
Sharing these experiences with those who may be new to it, who never thought they’d be there or able to achieve these challenges and seeing people push themselves to reach goals they have worked so hard to gain is my greatest reward. It makes me smile and feel truly fulfilled to share these moments with them.
Where is your favourite place to feel calm?
A day in the mountains is, without a shadow of a doubt, the place that makes me happy, relaxed and totally free from any stresses. It doesn’t seem to matter if the weather is bad or the mountainside steep and dangerous, I still never feel as good as up a mountain.
What do you do each day to nourish yourself?
I love my food. I love eating well, producing a colourful plate of vegetables and finding new flavours. I don’t have a sweet tooth but get excited about starters and healthy snacks. Exercise in some form every day makes me nourished as though I have given myself some quality individual time.
What is your favourite flower?
I can’t think of one flower I like best but it would be amongst the alpine flowers. I loved my season in the Italian Dolomites in June when the mountainsides were blanketed in alpine flowers of all descriptions and I’d study them in order to learn more and to point them out to the groups. My favourite plant though has to be Sphagnum moss – what a legendary plant with so many amazing properties.
Finally, do you have a favourite piece of advice that you were given that has stuck with you?
My two favourite pieces of advice are closely related. One was offered to me by a New Zealand travel writer I sat opposite in a North Borneo Railway carriage. My three month solo trip there was almost over and I found myself thinking of what was ahead when I got home. She said to me, “Stay in the country until you leave the country.” The very best day of the whole trip might have been that day so be in the moment every moment. The other was similar, given to me by a school friend who still remains oblivious of the effect her words had on my life. She pointed out my tendency to plan ahead or reflect and reminisce but that I rarely stopped to live in the present – since then, that is exactly what I have done and it has been an invaluable lesson.