“His outlook is more positive and this has had a huge affect on our home life”
Ian - can you tell us how and why you got involved with Raid'17?
Jonathan came to Hasler NSRC (Naval Service Recovery Centre). He was looking for individuals to do the challenge. My OC recommended myself and Damien Barret. I had taken up cycling as part of my rehabilitation due to its non impact nature. I had completed the Dartmoor Classic sportive and a the Lympstone Rehabilitation triathlon. The Raid seemed like the challenge I was looking for. Jonathan was very enthusiastic and compelling. I was sold and accepted!
Ian - what difference has getting involved with an endeavour like Raid'17 made to your life?
The Raid has given me a sense of purpose. A reason to train and push myself again. I had always trained hard to be a better rugby player or Marine. I never trained to get 'mirror muscles'! When I became ill my career and rugby were taken away from me. The Raid gave me a purpose, a reason to train. Cycling has also given me that outlet I once had through my career, rugby or training. Cycling I find massively stress relieving. This has had a positive effect on my marriage.
Michelle - what difference have you noticed in Ian since he's gotten involved with Raid'17?
Raid 17 has given Ian a renewed vigour. Finding a new outlet for his physical energy which does not have a detrimental affect on his joints has been a godsend. Ian is the sort of person who needs to exercise and feel that "buzz" and Raid 17 - through training and competing - has afforded him this.
Ian - how has the support of your family helped you?
My wife probably thinks I spend to much time tinkering with bike and riding it. But she does know that I need that challenge in my life. Being fit and active is something I've always done and she realises the importance that it holds to me. I was a Marine when we met. When that was taken away from me she knows how much that affected my sense of self worth. The Raid has in some way helped to compensate for that. She is very aware of that! She knows that after I've been riding I'm more relaxed and in a better mood. I forget all the the frustrations I have. She appreciates that encourages me to ride when I feel down.
Michelle – can you tell us how has Ian's involvement in Raid'17 had an impact on your and family life?
After his initial diagnosis Ian struggled not only with day to day life but with coming to terms with being so immobile. Being a very active person he was extremely frustrated with what had - almost over night - become a very sedentary existence. Raid 17 has given him something that active service no longer can - a purpose, an outlet for his energy, a sense of belonging and an enjoyment in life again. His outlook is more positive and this has had a huge affect on our home life.
Finally Michelle, why do you think it's important for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women to get involved with endeavours like Raid'17?
Of course. I would say that by their very nature many service personnel are often very physical and often competitive. Having an opportunity to succeed after injury or illness is a very valuable step towards recovery/ coming to terms with a changed direction in their careers. The camaraderie of such endeavours should also never be underestimated!
65 Degrees North is organising Raid'17, a 720km coast-to-coast bike ride across the Pyrenees which will take place in September and which will be a true demonstration of rehabilitation through adventure. For more information visit http://www.65degreesnorth.co.uk/raid-17/