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Recovering from a volcanic eruption - my biggest challenge - William Pike (Health, Lifestyle & Wellbeing Speaker)

Recovering from a volcanic eruption - my biggest challenge - William Pike (Health, Lifestyle & Wellbeing Speaker)

by William Pike on Tuesday, 11 October 2016

William Pike prides himself as being an ordinary kiwi bloke. However, those who have heard him speak have undoubtedly thought the opposite. As an accomplished motivational speaker, author, 2015 Young New Zealander of the year finalist and an international role model, and amputee, William is a leader and achiever who displays passion and success without limits. He motivates audiences to be passionate, resilient, embrace challenges and ensures there are no limits placed on what you and your team can achieve.

Here the Health, Lifestyle and Wellbeing speaker tells the story of his toughest challenge...recovering from a volcanic eruption and shares tips on how you can overcome any challenge you face.

The moment my life changed

It’s 8.20pm, you’re in a small hut on top of a mountain. You’re warm and cozy in your sleeping bag and nearly asleep when….BOOM! 500 meters away a volcano erupts with the force of 240,000 tonnes of TNT. Over one million cubic metres of rocks, mud, snow and water burst into the hut, you’re scooped up by debris and slammed against a wall. Rocks begin to tear flesh off your legs, splinter bones and you prepare to die. Your life changes in an instant - forever. How would you cope mentally, let alone physically? I went from being a fit, fearless mountaineer to being a disabled legless mess in hospital. That was the exact moment my life changed forever and I didn’t know how I was going to get through what had happened to me.

Would I pass?

Having my right leg amputated was incomprehensible for me. I lay in my hospital bed for 9 weeks wondering whether I’d ever walk, climb or work again. I wondered what people would think of me, if I’d be in constant pain and if my life would ever be the same. Times were unbearably tough but my passion for life and the outdoors was stronger. I reminded myself of who I was and what I wanted to achieve in life. In that hospital bed, I made a decision to get my life back on track. That decision inspired action and my actions inspired the change I so desperately needed to reach my dreams and goals.

It’s almost 9 years to the day that I’m writing this blog. The passing of time has allowed me to pull apart and put back together exactly how I overcame the biggest challenge of my life. Had I not looked after my mental well-being, my story might be a very different one today. Here’s a few ways I passed the test...


Giving back to my community. Giving back is emotionally healthy, it makes you feel good. I gave back by supporting the rescue services that helped me, talking to other amputees, giving blood and inspiring others by sharing my story.

Be active - get physical

I had to start small. For me, I was free from gravity in the swimming pool. Swimming was something I was good at. I felt great after each swim, I had a sense of satisfaction and achievement. We all know physical exercise is good for the mind and body.


Connect with people. My accident brought my family closer together. Of course, it could have torn us apart. The trick was having a close-knit family before the accident. Develop a tight-knit team at work, home and in the community before the storm arrives. Spend time with those on your team, respect them and have good communication.

I passed...for now

Lying in my hospital bed all broken and battered, I did question whether I’d have the mental strength to overcome the challenges I was faced with. If it wasn’t for my tight-knit team and positive attitude, life would be different. Just because I have been pushed to the limit in the past, doesn't mean I won’t be pushed to the limit again in the future. 

Prevention is better than a cure, so I’m constantly looking after my mind by staying active, giving back and connecting with people. A healthy head makes us more productive at work and enjoy ourselves more out of the office. What are you doing to ensure your mental well being is in top shape?

Inspired? Learn more about William here.

Health, Lifestyle, Wellbeing