Karen Dixon’s disabled niece stars in Beyond Boundaries on BBC2

  • An epic journey across Ecuador by Olivia Straker, the niece of former Olympic event rider Karen Dixon, is to be shown on the Beyond Boundaries series on BBC2 this month.

    Olivia, who has a form of dwarfism, was chosen from 150 applicants to be among 10 disabled young people to take part in the expedition.

    Last March the group travelled by horse, foot and boat to navigate their way from the Amazon Basin across the Andes to the Pacific Coast.

    They travelled up to 20 miles a day in the relentless rain, humidity and thick mud of the jungle to the freezing, rocky conditions in the Andes.

    Olivia said: “The mud in the jungle made it almost inaccessible to wheelchairs, we touched snow in the Andes and then in stark contrast the heat during our descent to the Pacific Coast was sometimes so intense it was almost unbearable.”

    As well as Olivia, the team was made up of three people who have cerebal palsy (two in wheelchairs), two deaf people, three amputees, one dysphasic (an impairment of verbal communication associated with a brain injury), a doctor and expedition leader Ken Hames.

    “Olivia is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met,” said Ken. “This expedition to Ecuador was one of the toughest challenges I have ever contemplated and she was always ready to give both physical and moral support to her fellow team members, even when exhausted herself.

    “I owe her a lot for her endless enthusiasm, courage and selfless belief that we would make it to the end.”

    Olivia raised £15,000 for the Riding for the Disabled Association and Herefordshire Growing Point.

    The Beyond Boundaries series will be shown over four weeks on BBC2 at 9pm starting tomorrow Friday (9 May).

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