“Without Mission Motorsport…I wouldn’t be where I am now that’s for sure”

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, such as your military history?
I joined the Army at the age of 16 with the Queens Royal Lancers and later the Royal Lancers, serving almost 15 years to the day of joining. I was serving as an observer mentor for Brigade Reconnaissance Force in BATUS Canada when my injury occurred. Over the 8 months I was there I found my hands getting more and more painful and the ability to hold on while traveling cross-country more difficult. Over the next few years it didn’t get any better and I was sent for tests at Headley court. I was diagnosed with premature wear and tear of the joints in my hands and severe acute sensitivity to the cold. The condition was untreatable except for painkillers and a change in lifestyle preventing it from getting worse. I was then graded as P0 and was facing a long wait off work. I was sent home early January 2016 and eventually medically discharged in December 2016.

How did you get involved with Mission Motorsport? 
During Summer Leave 2015 when I was told I would likely be Medically discharged, a colleague was doing some work with Mission Motorsport and with my love of motorsport, he suggested I got in touch to see how they could help. I wasn’t looking for any specific help just a possible hobby that wouldn’t make my injury worse and some advice of other like minded WIS soldiers. I really enjoyed myself the first time I was at Mission Motorsport HQ - they always give a warm welcome and don’t do the usual “what’s your injury speak”. Their primary mission is the use the medium of motorsport to get WIS involved and provide them with vocational courses for future employment. The sport and retraining directly assists individuals with their recovery, whether for physical or psychological injuries and gives confidence and support to the individuals.

Once I was graded P0 and sent home I was feeling low and contacted Mission Motorsport, they told me they were able to get me on the WIS program with them. The Charity offered support and asked if I could, and wanted, to start a Level 3 Diploma in Light vehicle maintenance and repair. I was very interested but worried my injuries may hinder my progress. But after an assessment with my previous experience on armoured vehicles, a specific working environment and timeshare were set up. We arranged to start the course at the start of February 2016 with financial backing from Walking with the Wounded. I finished the 24 month course in June 2016 mainly due to the experience gained with the Defender challenge. 

We hear you had a leading role as part of the 2016 Defender Challenge team. Can you tell us a bit about what you were involved in?
During the time I started the vocational training Land Rover were ceasing production of the Defender and an opportunity arose for Mission Motorsport – it was offered a Bowler Defender for the 2016 Defender Challenge. This challenge consists of 7 rounds with four in Wales, two in England and a final in Scotland. Due to the importance of the championship and events with media coverage a manager was needed to run all activities in the team. I was asked if I wanted to manage the team and as I was aiming for a job in the automotive industry with Jaguar Land Rover I jumped at the chance! I was involved in looking after finances of the team, training schedules, driver licences, accommodation, event transportation and writing race reports for sponsors and Land Rover’s newspaper The Landy. I also had the privilege to not only manage the team but drive the car and navigate it at an event. During the season we finished 7th overall out of 12. We also had two accidents on stages in which we had to conduct major repairs on the car being taken back to the chassis. The team were well qualified and experienced at rebuilding the vehicle by the end of the season. 

How do you think getting involved in Mission Motorsport and sport generally has helped you on your journey to recovery?
I am a person that needs to be doing something all of the time and struggle to relax or switch off. My coping mechanism for dealing with things is to keep busy, so doing a Diploma and running a race team was keeping me very busy. It focused me on what the end goal was and what I needed to achieve it. To add insult to injury I also moved house back to my home to ensure my family were as prepared as possible for me making the transition into civilian life. Without Mission Motorsport noticing I needed to be kept busy I wouldn’t be where I am now that’s for sure. While doing the Defender Challenge I worked with Land Rover teams and met a manager of Prototype Vehicle Operations across Jaguar Land Rover. It’s thanks to meeting him that I was able to secure a work placement at the Halewood plant. 

What advice would you give to wounded, injured and sick Service personnel if they were hesitating about getting involved with an endeavour?
The Endeavour Fund’s support for charities like Mission Motorsport not only helps provide the needed escape from injuries but also provides retraining and employment opportunities. Mission Motorsport’s mission statement Race, Retrain and Recover is testament to the present and the future. The Endeavour Fund supports wounded injured and sick service personnel, by engaging them in sporting challenges, giving them a purpose again and a goal to achieve which is what they have been used to in service. 

We’ve heard on the grapevine that you’re going to start a job with Jaguar Land Rover? Congratulations! What will you be doing there?
My work placement started in October 2016 and was supposed to last two weeks but I was keen to keep the experience going with Land Rover. I applied to a few jobs within the plant and had interviews and after 3 months of doing everything possible I was offered a job. The job starts in February and I’ll be starting as a jointing engineer within company quality. It entails working running a TIAP team (Torque Integrity Assurance Program) ensuring all fixings on the vehicle are to the correct torque value and processes in fixing to are adhered to. I am so honoured to be offered the position and feel very grateful for the chances over the last year, it will keep me very busy with an amazing employer. 

Find out more about Mission Motorsport at http://www.missionmotorsport.org/ 

Mission Motorsport CEO James Cameron and Mike Burton meeting The Duke of Cambridge at the recent Endeavour Fund awards
Mission Motorsport CEO James Cameron and Mike Burton meeting The Duke of Cambridge at the recent Endeavour Fund awards