Servicemen and women can discover the power of grassroots sport in their recovery.
Simon’s Help for Heroes Journey
Simon Coultish is one of thousands to have benefited from Sports Recovery activities, after having broken his back while serving in the RAF. Simon’s life-long love of cricket saw him play as opening bat for the Forces team, first at the local station level, and then for RAF Germany. Despite continuing to play after his injury, the pain became too much and his dependency on using a wheelchair increased to the point where he resigned himself to having played his last innings. Simon sold all his kit and became an armchair spectator.
All that changed in 2017 when he contacted Help for Heroes for support – 19 years after leaving the Forces. Having been confined to the house following two strokes and a major heart attack, the 50-year-old grandfather could bear daytime TV no longer, nor did he want to remain dependent on his family. Simon appealed to the Charity for suggestions on how to occupy his time and make his life fulfilling once more.
How Sport Helped Simon’s Recovery
Within weeks Simon was playing adapted cricket, enabling him to have a runner and not have to field.
“I didn’t think I would ever play any type of sport again. When not in my wheelchair, I use a walking stick and even darts seemed out of the question because I have difficulty balancing,” said the former military chef.
“But staff at Help for Heroes have made me realise this needn’t be the case. They will find a way to help you have a go at virtually anything! I wear a back brace to prevent me twisting as I strike the ball and have adapted the way I stand and play, compared to how I used to – but at least I can still play.
“My involvement in cricket gets me out of the house and gives me something to look forward to, which is exactly what I needed and has made a massive difference to my life and to that of my family.“My back won’t heal: the pain will never go away and, eventually, I will be in a wheelchair full-time. I have come to terms with that but, in the meantime, cricket provides a distraction from that pain and if I can get some months of enjoyment before that day comes, it’s a bonus!
“I am convinced there are many more veterans sat at home, feeling like I did this time last year, and whose lives could improve so much just by picking up a bat and ball!” he said.
To date, Simon has had to travel to Help for Heroes’ Recovery Centre in Tedworth to meet up with other wounded veterans who also share his passion for the game. But a two-day introductory course on adaptive cricket, held at the Charity’s northern Recovery Centre – Phoenix House on Catterick Garrison – raised awareness among beneficiaries regionally and there are plans to hold fortnightly indoor net sessions to help maintain interest during the close season.
Have you been inspited by Simon’s story? if so you can help raise money for Help for Heroes by taking part in Tough Mudder.