It was 12 October 2016 and I had the absolute pleasure of speaking about my own journey to a group of military veterans for a programme run by Help for Heroes. The programme is aimed at supporting veterans with their transition, particularly if they have struggled since leaving the military, or simply do not know what’s next.
The first phase of this programme is called ‘Inspire’ and is about self-awareness; working out their likes, dislikes, passions, interests, and their personal situation so that they can set a plan to move forward. Help for Heros asked me to go down to Plymouth and speak to a group of veterans hoping that I could inspire/be a role model and to honestly share my life story; all it’s ups and downs and how I progressed to where I am now. I wanted to share the challenges that I faced, my successes and my failures and of course the great people that I have met along the way.
When I first got there, I was so nervous but I had to connect with these guys as I wanted them to feel emotion from my story. First I got to know them and listened to their own story and how they managed to find themselves in the medical state that they are in now. But to tell you one thing, I was inspired by the courage and tenacity that they showed me. No matter how low these guys had been feeling, they showed me a desire to succeed and after we all got outside and started on the task at hand – we were actually on a donkey farm, walking the donkeys, cleaning and sweeping away excrement – they then opened up more to me and we all ended up having a great morning.
I talked about my own story around the lunch table. I had been given sports clothing to donate to the veterans from ‘Be An Athlete’ (big thanks to Andrew Xeni and Phil Learney, www.baaclothing.com) and also handed out material from ULtimate Performance gyms (where I am currently a Senior Personal Trainer and appear on the cover of some of the promotional materials for the company).
The next day I received an email from the organisers to say that everybody had enjoyed my talk and that they would like me to become one of the regular guest speakers for Help for Heros in 2017. Needless to say, I was very happy to accept the amazing position.
I arrived at that day thinking I would be the one who must try to be inspirational, but I left feeling very humbled and inspired myself. These veterans are exceptionally amazing people and I was very privileged to have shared my story with them. Roll on 2017 – an amazing start to our trek to Everest and my work with H4H.