Tributes have been paid to a woman who inspired royalty and children, writes Catherine Priestley.

ACCORDING to Prince Harry, Anna Kelton personified all that the Invictus Games stands for.

The ex-servicewoman from Teesdale, in County Durham, who was an athlete and ambassador for the games, died in hospital on August 31, aged just 30.

Miss Kelton was serving with the Royal Navy when she was injured during a training exercise in 2011, which led to her later losing the use of her legs and being visually impaired. She was ultimately medically discharged.

She went on to compete in the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014, winning two gold medals in endurance and sprint rowing.

She then became an ambassador for the Games and carried out considerable charity work.

Among thousands of letters of condolence sent to her family was a letter from Prince Harry, creator of the Invictus Games.

He said she personified everything the international competition for injured servicemen and women stands for and praised her resilience and determination.

She was known for her positive attitude and was well-liked and respected by the Invictus Games team, he added. Staff at Barnard Castle School have also paid tribute to Miss Kelton, describing her as an inspiration and a great supporter of the school.

Invictus games athletes inspire school pupils

Miss Kelton attended Barnard Castle School for two years.

She left in 2004 and initially joined the Royal Marines as a bandswoman and medic before transferring to the Royal Navy.

The school’s second master Martin Pepper, Old Barnardians’ secretary Dorothy Jones and a number of Old Barnardians who were at school with her attended her funeral in Barnard Castle on Wednesday.

She was engaged to another former pupil of the school, James Croxford, and last visited the school for the Old Barnardians’ summer gathering earlier this year.

Ms Jones said: “I think everyone who knew Anna would describe her as inspirational. She was lively and so determined.

“Her medical condition was very complicated, but she had started to walk again and told me she was determined to walk down the aisle when she married James next March.

“She supported our Help for Heroes cricket day this year and was just about to start helping me with some archive research.

“It has been a huge shock.”

Miss Kelton also visited the school in her capacity as an ambassador for the Invictus Games two years ago.

She worked with sixth form students on a work experience project to develop a marketing campaign for the Games.

At the time she praised the school for its investment in access for people with disabilities, while students said she had helped them to appreciate the challenges injured servicemen and women face on a daily basis and to develop a greater understanding of the Invictus Games.

She was one of 30 Invictus athletes chosen to attend the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards show where they were awarded the Helen Rollason Award in memory of the late BBC presenter.