What on earth have I signed myself up to now? Well actually a darn good cause, albeit one which is described as a “demanding challenge of considerable difficulty requiring technical glacier travel, mountaineering skills and a high level of acclimatisation”. Gulp!
In May – June of 2014 the first expedition to be launched from The Royal British Legions Battle Back Centre at Lilleshall will depart for a mountaineering challenge to Ecuador. The main aim of the expedition will be to give a group of serving and new veteran soldiers, who have recently passed through the Centre, the opportunity to take part in an exciting and demanding expedition to enhance their recovery and future development. The expedition will aim to highlight and support Battle Back and in particular to highlight the need for more awareness and support for those injured in conflict.
Battle Back is an adaptive sport and adventurous training programme for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) personnel from across the Armed Forces, including mobilised reservists. It is MOD-led but delivered, funded and organised in partnership with Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and other service charities. It is an amazing scheme that helps provide challenges and goals for those with physical and mental scars from conflict, giving them back confidence and goals to aim for.
Having seen much of the excellent work carried out by Aylesford based Royal British Legion Industries helping those with post traumatic stress disorder and physical disabilities readjust to civilian life is incredibly challenging. Physical development is a key component in recovery and Battle Back activities are designed to promote confidence and independence and help accelerate physical, psychological and social recovery. Regular participation in adaptive sport, adventurous training and other activities can help the individual to focus on those things they are able to achieve, rather than what they cannot; in order to improve resilience, develop confidence, improve motivation and develop positive relationships that will enhance recovery.
So I feel truly honoured to have been asked to join 5 or 6 injured soldiers, along with a Labour MP John Mann and Liberal MP Greg Mulholland, to achieve the expeditions mountaineering objective of getting to the summit of Cotopaxi, an active volcano standing 5897m above sea level (FYI that’s 2 meters higher than Kilimanjaro).
Whatever challenge I may face over the next three months in terms of training and weight gain it is nothing compared to what these guys have already gone through. To be part of this challenge, raising awareness for the Battle Back Centre and its training programme, is incredible. I will keep a diary of the journey to the summit of Cotopaxi starting from today when I meet a personal fitness trainer (I hate the gym).
I need no sponsorship funding for this challenge but if you do feel inspired to support Battle Back financially or otherwise it would be much appreciated.