Forces Battle Back Team Help Bring Paralympic Torch To East London
A team from the Armed Service injury recovery initiative Battle Back were among the Torchbearers to bear the Paralympic Torch to almost Journey’s End last night, when it reached Newham Park, just a discus-throw from the Olympic Stadium.
In an emotional arrival, and cheered on by thousands of well-wishers, including the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wells, and Olympic Gold and Silver Medallist Mark Hunter, five Battle Back stalwarts helped bring the Paralympic Torch into the Park just prior to the Paralympic Cauldron lighting in the Stadium.
Supported by Help For Heroes, Battle Back is a British Forces initiative that uses Adaptive Adventurous Training and Sports Rehabilitation to help seriously wounded personnel gain confidence and return to active life. Battle Back also has close links to the British Paralympic Team and works to identify wounded personnel who show a talent for a particular sport and may benefit from inclusion in Paralympic Development Programmes.
Representing The Battle Back team at the emotional arrival were:
- Major (Retired) Martin Colclough (51),
a former British Army Fitness instructor, from Wiltshire who helped found the Battle Back programme
- Senior Aircraftman Mike Goody RAF (27),
who was seriously in Afghanistan in 2008, and now works as an instructor at Battle Back Centre
- Colonel Fred Hargreaves (42)
a Battle Back founder
- Kate Sherman (35),
a physiotherapist at Headley Court military rehabilitation centre
- Staff Sergeant Matthew Raasch-Sotinwa (41)
of 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers, who suffered a brain tumour which has left him with loss of sensation and some impairment.
Catching his breath on arrival, Martin said: ”The support we have received has been absolutely fantastic – to see so many well-wishers in person who would normally only watch us on TV! Help For Heroes and the Services have been so supportive to us and this has been a wonderful experience.”
Speaking a few days earlier, Martin said: “The Paralympics started in Stoke Mandeville and we are doing a reinvention of their work. Recreational therapy has always been part of rehabilitation, but we think having a competitive element helps further. Sport is crucial as it helps you reflect on the things you can do, rather than can't. That is why Help for Heroes have helped set us up. We have dealt with between 1,200 and 1,500 servicemen and women since 2008. Many work in grassroots sport, or just take part with their families, but some of the exceptional athletes have made it to Team GB. Derek Derenalagi was pronounced dead at one point when he was injured in Helmand, now he is in the Paralympics team. more
Meanwhile, hundreds of British Servicemen and women were on duty at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, helping check over 80,000 visitors into the Park and enjoying the extraordinary atmosphere of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
A number of the athletes competing in the LONDON 2012 Paralympic Games are serving members or veterans of the Armed Forces.
The serving members include Private Derek Derenalagi from 2 Mercian Regiment, who is competing in the Discus; Lance Corporal Netrabahadur Rana, from 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles, who is competing in sitting volleyball; Captain Nick Beighton, from the Royal Engineers, who is who is competing in the rowing. Veteran competitors include: Jamie Burdekin, RN (Wheelchair tennis), Charlie Walker, Army (sitting volleyball); Pamela Relph, Army (Rowing); Jon-Allan Butterworth, RAF (Paracycling track and road time trial); and John Robertson, RAF (Sailing).
Some 18,200 members of the British Armed Forces are supporting the Olympic and Paralympic Games, providing a whole range of land, naval and air expertise.
At the Olympic and Paralympic Venues, support includes working with civilian agencies to check visitors on arrival at events, as well ceremonial duties including flag raising teams at all the Victory medal presentations. In all over 170 members of the Armed Forces are acting as flag-bearers for ceremonies at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking part in over 100 ”Country Welcome” ceremonies and 805 Victory ceremonies.