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Following an unexpected path

The Southampton Law graduate whose life-changing injuries opened the door to a very different future.

Published: 3 December 2020

Southampton Spotlight shines a light on the impact our University is having across the world through the achievements of the individuals that make up our vibrant and diverse community.

Ben Pritchard (LLM Maritime Law, 2014) is making waves as a Para-rower for British Rowing – but this wasn’t the career he was expecting when he graduated from Southampton.

After studying for his master’s, Benjamin worked in London as an account executive in the marine division of insurance firm RKH Specialty. It was while he was there that his path took a very different turn.

“In 2016, I suffered a life-changing injury while competing in a cycling race, which left me paralysed from the ribcage down – and that’s where my journey to a career with British Rowing began,” says Ben.

He undertook rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital; the birthplace of the Paralympic Games:

“It was here that I was found by British Rowing and, as they say, the rest is history.”

Since then, Ben has decided to put his career in insurance on hold to give himself the best opportunity to reach his goal of competing at the Paralympic Games.

The biggest thing I learned while studying at Southampton was that there are far greater opportunities than you first might think.

Ben Pritchard - LLM Maritime Law, 2014; Para-rower for British Rowing

Throughout all of this, his experience at Southampton has stayed with him; not least because he was a recipient of the James Atherton Scholarship for sports, and was involved in triathlon, riding and cycling student societies. In fact, it prepared him for being ready for unplanned, but exciting, opportunities.

“I enjoyed my time at Southampton. I think the one thing that stood out for me was how diverse my course was. Studying within such an international peer group brings so many different perspectives to the lectures, and I feel that this added a real strength to my education.” he says.

“I would advise anyone looking to join Southampton with a clear career path or ambitions to stay open to opportunities outside of this path – you might not know where it could take you!”

British Rowing, Nick Middleton Photograph and All Mark One
British Rowing, Nick Middleton Photograph and All Mark One

Ben hopes that his new vocation will propel him to the top of the podium at future Paralympic Games: a goal he set himself at the start of his rowing career.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that life can change in an instant. Post-injury, I try to live in the present and enjoy any opportunity that presents itself. Never shut that door, because you don’t know the path it may take you down.”

“I am Ben Pritchard, and I am Able.”

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