Four Lincolnshire athletes will be competing in the Invictus Games, which get underway this weekend. Horncastle's Tom Folwell, Lucy Holt, from Cranwell, David Morris, from Ruskington and Market Rasen's Daniel Tasker will be is part of the 65-strong team of wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel and veterans selected to represent the UK in the Hague. Here are their stories...
Tom Folwell (sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby)
Thirty-four-year-old Tom, a former Sapper, from Horncastle, stood on an IED in June 2012 whilst on foot patrol in Helmand Province.
One minute he was walking, the next he was lying on the ground.
Tom lost both his legs and the tops of four fingers on his left hand.
Since injury, Tom has gone on to develop sleep apnoea which has had a profound impact on his wellbeing. It has however led to him taking a renewed interest in sport.
“Competing in the Invictus Games will show that my hard work has been rewarded and that I am still a member of the greater military family," he said.
"It will provide me with a much-needed sense of achievement.
"The Games would provide my little boy, who is now, an opportunity to experience his dad in an environment that he has never been a part of.
"One of brotherhood, camaraderie and excellence. This would give him a sense of pride and an opportunity to inspire his young mind.”
“I am always looking to learn in order to better myself. I am determined to learn as much as possible and having something that keeps me busy means that I am saved from the boredom that can be so demoralising.
"I gave up smoking in October. A 20-a-day habit of 16 years that those around me thought I would never kick.
"This determination has inspired those around me to fight their own individual battles and so I’ve become an unlikely inspiration.
"I continue to show this determination in my next goal of losing the weight I have accumulated since being injured.
"The Invictus Games provides the perfect opportunity for me to continue on this road to success."
Lucy Holt (athletics, indoor rowing, powelifting, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball)
The 26-year-old Lincolnshire Veteran, from Cranwell, is a keen netball player who struggled to come to terms with the end of her playing career when she suffered a serious ankle injury.
It had a knock-on effect with her mental health, and she began feeling very low.
The Invictus Games has opened her up to new sports which she can still do and enjoy, despite her injury.
She said: “I will continue to train and work hard on my fitness, confidence and wellbeing to enable me to be the best I can within my disability.
"I feel this will help me in my continued recovery phase which may never end, as such.
"But it will certainly help me focus on what can be achieved rather than what can’t be.
"It has given me new hopes and dreams within sport, albeit achieving it in a slightly different way.
"It is still difficult for me to come to terms with the end of my netball career, as I was so passionate about it, but my new focus is on rowing and athletics.
"The Invictus Games has helped me discover an affection and appreciation for alternative sports disciplines."
Meeting other people whose lives have also been significantly changed by an injury has had a very positive impact on Lucy.
"Being able to share stories of what challenges they have faced creates a very real sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.
Lucy explains: “It has made me realise I’m not alone with how I feel. Just being around others and hearing the different stories makes you stronger and more focused to succeed. I’m building new friendships along the way.”
Outside of her training regime the former Senior Aircraftsman in the RAF works with disabled children, promoting the benefits of sport in helping to build confidence and improve both mental and physical health.
Lucy has done several courses with Help for Heroes, including an engraving course, and is a member of the fellowship.
David Morris (athletics, sitting volleyball, swimming)
Sleaford man David Morris has been selected as vice-captain of Team UK at the 2020 Invictus Games in The Hague.
Cpl David Morris, from Ruskington, a Corporal in the RAF since 2000, was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder following an incident in 2011 whilst serving as a survival equipment specialist with the Red Arrows.
Such was the effect of the illness, that David said he was 'scared of my own shadow” and “didn’t even want to leave the house”.
In 2018 David was selected to take part in the Invictus Games in Sydney where he took part in swimming and rowing.
“The power of the Invictus Games is hard to describe to people; it has to be seen to be believed.
"The benefits have dramatically changed my way of life.
"I am learning to cope with anxiety and how it controls certain aspects of my life.
"I want to be able to manage that level of anxiety which still plays a massive part in blocking me from achieving simple goals, and can often be debilitating, through raising my self-confidence to a point where I actually believe that I can do something without thinking worst case scenario and giving in before I have even tried.
"I hope this will have a positive impact on my children who, on more than one occasion, have missed out on activities because I have suffered panic and anxiety problems.
“I’m so lucky to have been given this second chance at life and it’s thanks to the Invictus team, my coaches, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and my amazing family and friends.
"Without them, this would not be possible.”
David, who was born in Peterborough, believes that the experience of Invictus Games 2018 will stand in him in good stead to mentor those new to the Invictus Games in 2020.
He added: “I have continued to use sports recovery as a key point when delivering presentations to organised events such as wellbeing days at RAF units.
"I have also done the Mental Health First Aid course, with a view to becoming an instructor.
"This is all to promote and raise awareness of mental health issues.
"These activities ensure that I am playing my part to help with others and their recovery.
"It also helps keep me focused and not to go backwards.
"Being vice-captain is helping with confidence to carry this out as I have found that I have been fairly good at supporting and encouraging new Invictus applicants for this year.
"Taking part in Invictus Games 2020 will hopefully increase my use as a new, confident person who is able to take on new challenges and prove that this actually works.”
Daniel tasker (archery, athletics, cycling, powerlifting)
Lincolnshire Veteran Daniel, from Market Rasen, was left feeling ‘broken’ when following an injury to his arm, he was medically discharged from the RAF.
However, with the support of family, friends and Help for Heroes, the 38-year-old former corporal has started to ‘feel normal again’.
The impact of a career ending injury had a huge effect on Daniel’s feelings of self-worth.
It not only affected him physically and mentally, facing the challenges of adjusting to a different path in life outside of the RAF, but it also had repercussions on his relationships with family and friends.
“Since my injury I have felt defined and judged as a broken thing. From the friendships that I have already made, along with the help and support that comes with this process, I have started to feel normal again.
"The people that I have met during the Invictus UK Trials and training camps have taught me to trust in people and friendships again.
"I have met some truly inspirational people who have taught me that I can overcome my limitations and that they shouldn't be allowed to hold me back any longer.
"It is helping me to rebuild my confidence.”
As Daniel continues his sports recovery he credits Help for Heroes and his Invictus journey in giving him structure and purpose, one step at a time.
Help for Heroes brought Daniel a recumbent bike on which he is training, and he’s also done several work related courses with the charity.
“Since the training camps I have tried to develop my own running training schedule to work on my speed as well as distance and have started cycling to and from work to practice the skills I have been taught by the coaches.
"I’m using fitness apps to monitor my progression. The involvement of sport allows me to clear my head in ways that therapy has never been able to.
"The process so far has, and is, helping me to see that I can still accomplish something that can make me proud of myself again and make my family proud of me.”
It is important for Daniel that his family share in the joy of his achievements, especially his young son for whom he wants to set a good example for what is possible if you have determination and courage.
Sport enables Daniel to have fun with his family without feeling like 'a hindrance'.
He explains: “This is giving me a chance to show my five-year-old son that you can achieve if you have the determination to do so, if you don’t allow limitations or injury to hold you back.
"It is a chance for me to show my son that daddy can, rather than daddy can't.”