RAF technician hits the slopes to assist adaptive skiers

A Sleaford RAF technician whose day job is supporting the Red Arrows display team has hit the Bavarian slopes to help fellow injured service personnel learn to ski.
Chf Tech Stu Sinclair (stood left) with other instructors and student Flt Lt Kayleigh Pierce in the sit ski. Photo: Col Nick RichardsonChf Tech Stu Sinclair (stood left) with other instructors and student Flt Lt Kayleigh Pierce in the sit ski. Photo: Col Nick Richardson
Chf Tech Stu Sinclair (stood left) with other instructors and student Flt Lt Kayleigh Pierce in the sit ski. Photo: Col Nick Richardson

Chief tech Stuart Sinclair has been involved with instructing on a military exercise in Germany, involving personnel who have injuries or illnesses using skiing as a way to aid their rehabilitation and recovery.

The two-week exercise called Exercise Snow Warrior (Adaptive), is run by Battle Back, a MOD-led programme which is delivered, funded, and organised in partnership with Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and other service charities.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Battle Back programmes are designed to promote confidence and independence while helping to accelerate physical, psychological, and social recovery (mind, body and soul).

Inspired by an American military initiative called Wounded Warrior, set up in 2003 to support American Armed Forces personnel who were severely injured, the British military invented Battle Back with the aim of encouraging wounded, injured and sick service personnel to participate in activities including challenging outdoor training such as rock climbing, canoeing, skiing, and caving.

Stuart said: “This has been my first experience of adaptive skiing, having skied with the RAF for several years as a ski leader. It has been phenomenal to see the benefit that adaptive skiing has on the students, their confidence and their rehabilitation. I hope to be back next year to attend the adaptive instructor course and support future serials and students in their recovery from injury or illness.”

Chief instructor WO2 Simon Thompson said: “The day the students arrived they all looked apprehensive and worried about what lay ahead. By the end of the training not only had their skiing skills got better but their overall outlook on life and their mental and physical resilience was immeasurably improved.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Away from work, Stuart, and his wife Hayley, who also serves in the RAF, care for their son Zachary who was left with life changing disabilities aged 10-months when he was treated for cancer of the eye and brain.

Stuart and Hayley plan for Zachary to experience adaptive skiing in the future. While it is only the beginning of this journey, with the help and instruction from the adaptive skiing course, Stuart will attend in 2025 and with the experiences he has gained from Ex Snow Warrior (Adaptive), this dream is one step closer to becoming realised.

So, while the exercise is there to rehabilitate and recuperate injured service persons, everyone who attends in which ever capacity, be it instructor or student will have life changing experiences and memories they can use to help them with far reaching, positive outcomes which don’t just benefit their service.

Colonel Nick Richardson, the officer in charge, said: “Having been involved in this exercise for over a decade I have taught numerous individuals from across all three services including those who have suffered in car accidents, from illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and from blast injuries sustained in Afghanistan and Iraq resulting in limb amputations. The improvement in physical and mental health alongside confidence and skill levels that you see in the students every time is remarkable.”

Related topics: