Amy Hopper

“I’d forgotten what it was like to do basic tasks without being in pain”

Amy Hopper’s emotional and mental health resilience were tested to the limit by a series of circumstances, each of which might have broken any other person. After surviving a car crash and coping with the death of her husband she found the strength to use her experiences to help others. Now Amy has been nominated for the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards 2024. Francesca Day from the awards team interviewed Amy to find out more.

Amy is the Founder of the TOA (Triumph Over Adversity) Group and is a glowing example of an individual who has overcome a lot of challenges and is now using her experience to help and inspire others.

Amy Hopper

TOA is a performance consultancy which aims to help companies to remove wellbeing barriers in order to create higher performing teams.  Two of the tools that Amy has developed for use in her workshops are: The Emotional Regulation Bank Metric and The Goal Splitting Mountain Process.

Amy explained that in our consumer focused world while we understand the concept of banks we aren’t always as good at understanding when we are giving our emotional energy and capacity.

This can cause us to run into difficulty.  Imagine that every time you expend emotional energy (that you should be conserving or using for yourself) that you are giving that thing £20.  If you constantly spend money without paying back into your account that’s when we can get into debt and the consequences of that kind of debt includes: mental health issues, burnout and breakdown.

The purpose of The Emotional Regulation Bank Metric is to help people understand where they place their energy and emotional capacity so that they can learn to regulate and look after themselves.

The experience of going from being very active and involved in lots of activities such as: hiking, dance, competitive sprinting and long distance swimming to not being able to care for herself was a very humbling one for Amy which had a huge impact on her mental health.  She used The Goal Splitting Mountain Process to help her get back into solo hiking an activity which she had enjoyed since childhood.  During her recovery from spinal fusion surgery she decided that she wanted to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks and asked herself how was she going to do that?

Amy had also recently become a widow and said that her mental capacity was incredibly low so the goal that she had set for herself seemed daunting.  The solution was developing The Goal Splitting Mountain Process.  As Amy explained no-one would say that you hadn’t climbed Mount Everest if you had used the base camps.  She wrote down her goal of solo hiking again and then broke that down into stages and then worked out what she would need to do to accomplish that stage and then repeat that for the next stage and the next.  Thereby splitting the mountain down into base camps.  Amy has since accomplished her goal of getting back into solo hiking and has climbed two of the Yorkshire Three Peaks accomplishing the feat in a sub five hour time despite having seven and a half hours to do it.

As Amy explained when using this technique for goal setting you have to have patience.

“You take one step at a time and when you look back you’ve climbed a mountain.”  

As an adult, Amy was diagnosed with ADHD and says that this can be a useful model for neurodivergent people if like her they find it hard to stay motivated when dealing with multiples of tasks.

In December 2019 Amy underwent spinal fusion surgery to resolve the injuries that she had been living with since being involved in a high speed car accident five years earlier after she was hit by a dangerous driver.  Following the surgery and a few water therapy sessions at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital Amy’s year long recovery and rehab plan was effectively ripped up when the UK entered the first national lockdown for Covid-19.  Before having surgery Amy was unable to walk, bend, twist or sit for long periods and in constant pain to the point of blacking out, and after surgery she was wheelchair bound for a time.

She had responded poorly to taking morphine and had developed stomach ulcers due to the painkillers that she was taking.  During those five years Amy had developed protective mechanisms to protect her injured body but following surgery she began the difficult process of dismantling them.  “I’d forgotten what it was like to do basic tasks without being in pain”.

The process involved working with both physical therapists and counsellors.

“Some tasks I would naturally do and I would notice half-way through that I was doing it, and others I would have to build myself up to in advance.  Mentally and working past trauma and having discussions with healthcare professionals”.  Having a good support network when facing challenges is important.

Amy counts herself as fortunate that she had been able to surround herself with people when she started her first business that she knew were in her corner and would tell her yes you can.  So when it came to going into lockdown and recovering from her spinal fusion Amy knew that she had the right people around her, people who lifted her when she needed them and were always at the end of the phone which is something that she describes as “a truly wonderful thing that I don’t take for granted at all”.

In May 2020 at the age of 32 Amy sadly lost her husband to suicide.  She later partnered with the charity Widowed and Young during her solo travels across Europe where she hiked 600km, visiting 8 countries and 26 cities.  When she started her trip she was wearing summer clothes and when she returned to the UK in the middle of November there was a Christmas tree in the airport.

She had done solo trips before but she had been able to make daily calls to her husband back home so this was a very different experience.  “It was a time when I was really, really presented with my own thoughts and feelings and I needed to find myself”.  She posted videos and updates from her travels on Instagram and received lots of lovely messages from other widows including one that said that they had never been away on their own before and Amy’s posts had inspired them to book their first weekend away.  The charity Widowed and Young was founded in 1997 to provide peer support to people who are 50 or under at the time that their partner died.

A lot of what the TOA workshops are based on now i.e. business consultancy, CBT, mind body techniques and mindfulness, are the structures that Amy has used to get through everything that she has been through in the last few years.

To nominate an individual, organisation or initiative for the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards, or to find out more, visit