I realised that I want to challenge myself, not as a punishment this time but as a celebration. The self-abuse that I carried out over the years needed to stop.
Nick joined the Royal Navy as a stores accountant in 1977. While most of his life at sea was onboard survey ships he saw action in the Falklands Campaign. He explains: “I was on the Atlantic Conveyor when she was hit, which is why my participation with Help for Heroes came about.”
He left the services in 1986 and has had a varied career since. For the first ten years he utilised his stores skills, working as a parts manager for a garage in Taunton. After ten years he says he had a complete change of life: “I decided to quit the rat race and I became a nursery school teacher down in Newquay. This is still the hardest job I have ever done. But I loved it.”
Needing more money and security after the birth of his son, he became a teaching assistant. He’s been in this role for the last 20 years and says it’s been very important: “Not only is it fulfilling, the students I work with are such fun. I’ve also made a difference to lives. I’ve stopped people leaving school, I’ve actually stopped young people harming themselves. That I see as my big success in my life.”
Nick’s PTSD had a huge effect on his day-to-day life. He didn’t want to go out or take part in anything but solitary activities. Since he joined Help for Heroes in 2016 he’s been given support to re-engage with other people and take part in group activities such as the Invictus Games Choir, baking and sporting events. This has led to him gaining the confidence to apply for this year’s Invictus Games.
He says joining Help for Heroes is helping him to have confidence in his ability to achieve: “It’s opened up a new world to me. Everything I’d done before has been solitary. I’m an artist too, and I’ve always done that alone. My sports have been surfing and long-distance running. I wasn’t a social creature at all. I didn’t go out, I didn’t do anything. All of a sudden I was getting emails to be involved with other people doing things.”
Nick will be competing in cycling in the Invictus Games which has given him another new purpose in life. He has been training regularly which is helping both his physical and mental wellbeing.
As well as taking part in the Invictus Games, Nick exhibited his artwork at the first ever Help for Heroes Creative Force exhibition this summer and sings with the Invictus Games Choir. He says being part of the Invictus Games Team is a huge step on his recovery journey: “For my recovery the Invictus Games is going to be absolutely awesome. Help for Heroes for me has been like having a big brother who just looks after you. The feeling of self-worth that I am part of an organisation that helps others and helps me is just brilliant.”
Get behind Team UK this October by sharing this incredible event with friends and family. And make sure you tune in to witness how Nick and Team UK have been empowered by sport.