Tuesday, 21 June 2016


On Wednesday 15th of June Team aparito took line honours in the Three Peaks Yacht Race. The first time that an all female crew had EVER done so. I still can’t stop smiling when I think about it.

Pip Hare our amazing Skipper has already written a brilliant blog accounting our adventure, so I’m not going to repeat any of that (but please do read hers).

But I do want to share some personal reflections of my own on the race. Mainly to thank all the people that made it possible.

In my blog before the race I explained how I wanted to use the race as an opportunity to fly the flag for women in sport, Wales and rare diseases (three things that are usually in the minority) and my hopes to do all three of them proud. I am massively relieved that we accomplished that.

Our fine ship Nunatak has the logo for Findacure proudly displayed on the hull, and we used the opportunity to raise money for them too. A massive thank you to all those that have already donated to this great charity. The link is still open, so if you can please do donate.  I am always very grateful.

We also had the Welsh flag flying from our backstay, and the opportunity to team up with fellow Welsh adventurer Lowri Morgan was a long time ambition which couldn't have worked out better. That Lowri and my long time friend Jo Jackson got on so well was just perfect. Indeed I could not have imagined how well all five of us got on. Bringing five fiercely strong, independent women together always has an element of risk to it. And unfortunately I know too well that it can go horribly wrong – with personalities clashing and more. I need not have worried about any of that with our fabulous team of five! And I can’t wait for the three part documentary sharing our experience to be shown on S4C next month, and on Channel 4 soon after.

The fact that all five of us are highly experienced adventurers / endurance athletes means that being female shouldn't matter. But inevitably it does. We were the fourth all female crew to compete in the 39-year history of the race, and the first to take line honors. That is worth celebrating. Sailing does offer an unique arena where men and women can compete equally, and where brute force or strength is not the only winning factor. The intensity and the pace of the sailing meant that I was merely playing catch up most of the time. Frustrated at not being able to operate at the same level as Pip and Nikki I had to remind myself that I was still a mere novice in sailing terms compared to them, and decided instead to relish on the opportunity to learn from the best. I had asked Pip and Nikki to be part of the team because I knew they were phenomenal sailors, and it was great to watch them demonstrate that – inspiring me to consider where my sailing ability could extend in years to come.  

The list of people that I have to thank for making this a truly once in a lifetime adventure is long, as is always the case in these events. So, in no particular order:
  • ·      Thanks to my colleagues at aparito for believing in this enough to sponsor the event, and covering for me while I was away.
  • ·      Thanks to all our other sponsors Keela, SubZero, Primal Pantry, Mountain House, Oes Gafr Eto for amazing kit and supplies which made our adventure far easier.
  • ·      Thanks to Wendy and the HSBC rowing club for lending us the oars and seats.
  • ·      Thanks to Sian and family for hosting us in Barmouth and driving us around everywhere we needed to be at the race start.
  • ·      Thanks to all my family that came to cheer us off at the start line. Diolch!
  • ·      Thanks to Mike and Pam Jaques for shore crew support in Whitehaven and Fort William, and for keeping Frosty company.
  • ·      Thanks to Pip, Nikki, Lowri and Jo for being phenomenal team mates.
  • ·      But most of all thanks to my Frostie for chartering us the boat, prepping it beforehand, delivering it up to Barmouth and back down from Fort William and for generally being my No 1 fan. Seeing his pink jacket at various land marks along the way made me smile every time. With help from your Dad (Roger Frost) you made it possible, and I was very proud to reward your hard work and trust in us with bringing home the trophies: 
The Daily Telegraph Trophy (first yeacht to finish)
Meirioneth Cup (Second yacht to finish under handicap) 
Flicka Cup (Fasstest team third leg, IRC sail + run)  

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


The Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and most remarkable multi-sport endurance races in the world, and one that I’ve wanted to compete in for a very long time.

Teams of five per yacht sail from Barmouth on the west coast of Wales up to the finish in Fort William on the west coast of Scotland, stopping off at Caernarfon and Whitehaven on the way. During those stops two of the crew are required to climb each of the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland, which is equivalent of three marathons.

I’m thrilled to bits to be competing this year as part of team aparito. Being part of such a phenomenal crew is rather intimidating to say the least. Pip Hare and Nikki Curwen are both amazing high profile off shore solo sailors, and both of them have completed in the mini Transat. I’ve always had great admiration for them both. I’m also finally getting to team-up with fellow Welsh adventurer Lowri Morgan, which has been a long time ambition of mine. Lowri is a legend ultra marathon runner with many successes to her name. And most excitingly I get to join forces with my old crewmate from my Indian row, Jo Jackson. Since that row Jo has gone to do amazing things, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to get the opportunity to compete with her again.

I’m not only excited to be taking part in this race because it’s an opportunity to get the adrenaline pumping again, and to experience a new adventure (which I always love), but this time it feels even more special. Primarily because I get to fly the flag for women in sport, for Wales, and for rare disease. Three things that’s often in the minority. When you’re in the minority it means that you have to fight harder for a fair chance, and fight harder for equal recognition. When you’re in the minority you often have to shout louder to be heard, or find a different platform to share your story.

The Three Peaks Yacht Race will therefore be a platform for me to fly the flag for three issues that are very important to me. I hope that I do all three things proud.

To support rare diseases I will be once again raising money for the charity Findacure. A charity that empowers patient groups and support drug repurposing – two causes I’ve been championing throughout my professional career. If you can, please do donate.  I am always very grateful.

The race starts 2pm on Saturday, and you can track us live via this link. We will also have an on board reporter filming our every move, and a documentary will soon follow on S4C and Channel 4.

We couldn’t have funded our adventure without our great sponsors: aparito, Keela Outdoor clothing, sub zero clothing, Oes Gafr Eto, Mountain House Food, and Primal Pantry – THANK YOU ALL! But most importantly thank you to Chris Frost. Like all of my sailing adventures over the last 18 months I would not have been able to do any of them without his support. He might not be on the boat racing with me this time, but he is still very much an important part of the team, as he has the very important role of being shore crew - which means looking after us all in every stop over. Not only that but Chris and his Dad are with Nikki as I type delivering the boat up to Barmouth ready for the start. Thank you Frosty for being my much needed anchor!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Today is my last day in India. It's been an amazing visit and I've been particularly moved by the tremendous efforts Doctors here go to to find and fund treatment options for their patients. 

Launching @aparitohealth was a particularly exciting personal milestone for me. Patients travelled from afar to use our monitoring devices and smart phone apps. In a country as vast as India remote monitoring with digital / mhealth has even more of a possibility to make a positive impact, and I really hope that aparito can play a small part in making that happen.

As a woman I've also been moved by the efforts made to give girls an equal chance of survival here, and having met some phenomenally successful Indian women on this trip I'm more determined than ever to promote equality for women. 
Like Sheryl Sandberg said in Davos recently, "Men still run the world - and I'm not sure it's going that well! Until we rectify that, everyone will suffer".

When I start to think about the issue on a global scale I get overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, and often end up thinking “there’s just no way I can make a difference”. But then I feel that all women have a responsibility to try to address this issue and all women have one thing which we can all do – talk about it! Talking about it is the first step towards acknowledging that there is a problem. Talking about it makes you and others consider what the issues are. Talking about it is also the first step to finding solutions.

Talking about equal opportunities is never pointless therefore. Talk about it with your partner, talk about it with your children, talk about it with your friends, your colleagues, your peers – everyone. Talk about it in every social circle you find yourself. Not everyone will thank you, and not everyone will agree with the opinion that there’s a problem to be resolved. But like the Australian comedian Tim Minchin elegantly said in his “occasional address” for a graduation ceremony:

Be Hard On Your Opinions
A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.
We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.
Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance.

By helping ourselves and others do this, and not just be accepting the status quo we all stand to make a difference.

Saturday, 16 January 2016


As 2016 begins in earnest it’s a particularly exciting time for us here at aparito to be celebrating our first official birthday!

Since our launch on the Bethnal Green Ventures tech for good accelerator scheme twelve months ago things have been progressing well. A pivotal milestone in our year was obtaining MHRA (Medicine Healthcare Regulatory Authority) approval to start our studies. In addition we were very honoured to be awarded the UnLtd Fast Growth Millennium Award - crucial support that allowed me to protect dedicated time to the work. 

Central to our work is partnering with patient support groups, and we are extremely proud of our collaboration with both the Niemann-Pick Association and the Gaucher Association. Our collaboration with them has not only secured funding from the pharmaceutical industry to conduct studies in both disease groups but also in establishing the partnership with Great Ormond St Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s and the Salford Royal Hospital where the studies are due to start soon. Without this patient group support our ambitions would be meaningless.

Next week marks a particularly exciting time when I will fly to India to introduce our devices and apps for remote monitoring of patients with lysosomal storage disorders. With the wonderful support of Dr Ashok Vellodi and the LSDSS in India we are thrilled to be launching there. All being well we will also be intiating such an initiative at the National Institute of Health in America in April of this year. To think that we are operating globally within such a short period of time is mind blowing.

December 2015 was a particularly positive time for us. We were not only named in the 2015 Nominet Trust top 100 digital social innovation but it was also announced that we had been awarded a place with Wayra Health Velocity. A digital start up accelerator scheme investing in digital healthcare innovation to address the challenges outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View. This will inevitably give us a strong platform in 2016 to expand further.

One of the sad news of 2015 was that my co-founder Ed Freed was no longer able to be a central part of the core team. Due to Ed’s success in his day job he could no longer support our day-to-day work but continues to be very much a champion of our goals, and a much needed personal shoulder of support for me. Without Ed, the idea behind aparito would never have emerged, and for that I will always be especially thankful to him.

Our first birthday is a certainly a time to reflect on the last year, and to thank all those that have supported us to get this far. I can’t name you all but needless to say that we would not have been able to get this far without all the help, support and handholding which we have received this far.

One of the things that strikes me the most in reflecting back is that the most valuable help and inspiration has often come from the most unlikely people and places. This is particularly so in terms of our legal partner Hogan Lovells. Their pro bono support as part of their BaSE scheme has been outstanding, and we could not have imagined the extent in which their legal guidance has supported us.

Help and inspiration that has given me the inner-strength and self-belief to truly believe that what we’re trying to achieve at aparito really is a worthwhile initiative.

Digital health is an incredibly fast-moving and crowded space at the moment with many of the big players making great progress with large scale investment. This often feels overwhelming and daunting. But with the help, support and encouragement of all those around us, I’m sure that 2016 will be another great year for aparito grow and prosper as a social enterprise.  

Dr Elin Haf Davies 



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