RAF VETERAN CLINCHES SILVER TRIO IN PARALYMPICS
London 2012 has been a resounding success for RAF Veteran Jon – Allan Butterworth, who has clinched three silvers in the cycling events in the Paralympic Games.
Jon-Allan, 36, was an RAF armourer but took up cycling after leaving the RAF in 2009 following a serious injury in a rocket attack in Basra, Iraq. Losing an arm as a result of the attack put him on the path to cycling glory and changed his life forever.
Back in England and after many months of medical rehabilitation and adjustment, Jon-Allan ‘discovered cycling’, taking up the sport to help his battle back to full fitness and ultimately qualifying for Paralympic GB at London 2012. In just a few short years, Jon-Allan has gone from RAF duties on the front line to returning again and again to the Paralympics medal stage, winning silver medals in the 1 km and 4 km Time Trials and the Team Sprint at the Paralympic Velodrome, although he dropped to 13th place in the Road time trials and didn’t complete at Brands Hatch.
But lots of hard work came first, with training for the Paralympics leading to numerous accolades along the way, including golds in the 1km time trials at the last two world championships as well as the last two Nationals.
Jon-Allan, who hails from Sutton Coldfield where his mother Jennifer and brothers Elliott and Haydn still live, first joined the RAF in 2002 and has seen service in both Iraq and Afghanistan among other locations. He enjoyed RAF service to the full before the rocket attack at Basra Air Station in 2007, when his arm had to be amputated above the elbow. During recovery at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey, Jon-Allan got his first taste of competitive cycling at a Paralympics GB talent day in Loughborough when he met up with British cycling coaches.
Things then started to move fast, with other cycling opportunities including a hugely enjoyable sport camp in Santiago, and in 2008 he became involved with the Help for Heroes’ Big Battlefield Bike Ride, a 350 mile cycling challenge around the battlefields of northern France to raise funds for injured servicemen and women. The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped up to the plate to kit Jon-Allan out with a bike, and Service charities The RAF Association and BLESMA, and the Battle Back scheme to help rehabilitate injured Service personnel, all provided tireless help. more
Although Jon-Allan misses Service life and all it stands for: “I loved the RAF, where one meets great people and there is loads of camaraderie”, he says, he decided that his military career was over and it was time to move on. “I found the RAF really rewarding, but in 2009 felt my Service career was complete and I needed to change course, but at least it was a time of my own choosing.
“That’s when I decided to make cycling my future career, and my new life offers many of the things you get in the Services. I was grateful for everything the RAF gave me, and in a way even for my injury – it has led to everything I have achieved since. If I hadn’t been so badly wounded I would still be an RAF armourer, but what I have done since has been brilliant. One door closes and another one opens – now it’s all about constantly improving and adapting. The Paralympics have been amazing and I’ve still got a lot to look forward to. I’m taking a short break next before heading for more national events, and then there’s Rio to aim for.”