We are delighted that Alex continues to be part of our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Alex was a Squadron Sergeant Major in the Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and a competing member of the British Army Triathlon Team. In 2015, Alex suffered a brain haemorrhage which completely changed his life. In 2018, he competed at the Invictus Games and won four medals.
“Having adapted to the challenges of living life after my brain haemorrhage, I know how important it is to have the right support to deal with mental health and remaining positive; I was very lucky to be surrounded by a loving family and the medical and rehabilitation staff at hospital and at the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC). Physical activity has been vital to my overall wellbeing and so was being part of the Great Britain Invictus Games team.
With the privilege of working with children and young adults in the Ripon area, I am aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of so many young adults and it is so important that we do all we can now to ensure they avoid suffering from long-term mental health difficulties.
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) are delivering the annual BRIT Challenge as an inspirational UK-wide opportunity to support and improve the mental health and fitness of millions of students and young adults throughout the UK; I am delighted that they have extended the BRIT Challenge invitation to all three services; particularly cadets.
The BRIT Challenge is great way for regular, reservist and cadet units to enter teams, take on the challenge, raise funds for a second charity of their choice, alongside BRIT and destigmatise mental health.
I hope all three services embrace the BRIT Challenge and enable regulars, reservists and cadets to unite wherever they are (at home or on base) and take part in a team event to support and improve their mental health and fitness. As the BRIT Challenge is an inclusive event with many ways to participate, (including wheel-chair pushing, walking, jogging, running, cycling, hand-cycling, swimming, adaptive rowing, rowing or paddling), this means wounded veterans can take part alongside serving personnel.
I am delighted to be a BRIT Ambassador and look forward to encouraging and supporting cadets as they take on the BRIT Challenge. I also hope to encourage fellow Invictus team members to join our BRIT Ambassador family and support this great cause.”
Former Triathlete and multiple Invictus Games medallist
Alex was a Warrant Officer in the British Army and in 2015, suffered a life-changing brain haemorrhage that left him unable to communicate or remember his name. It took enormous courage to push through his recovery and sport became his solace.
There are three elements to Alex’s disability. Firstly, aphasia; this is to do with the part of the brain that deals with speech. The second is the loss of peripheral vision. After Alex’s initial treatment in hospital, he was transferred to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), where he received expert intensive speech and language therapy. He made slow and steady progress and was able to return to the British Army in a non-active role. When he was ten days away from being given the all clear, the third part of his disability came to light when he suffered an epileptic seizure.
It was during Alex’s time at DNRC that he realised the importance of sport and fitness to his recovery. During his rehabilitation, one of Alex’s therapists suggested he should apply for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.
Alex did not think he would be eligible as he doesn’t have a physical disability, however the selection for the Invictus Games is based on a mixture of sport and recovery related criteria to ensure participants benefit from taking part in the Games.
When Alex was selected for both swimming and cycling it was very exciting for his wife, Ellie, and their four children who had been through the injury and recovery process with him.
Alex was selected as Team Captain for the Great Britain Invictus Games Cycling team and also took part in the UK Swimming team, achieving 4 medals over in Australia.
The whole training and competing experience, and being able to go to Sydney, with the support from Ellie and their children, gave Alex a massive boost for building his self-belief and sense of purpose.
Since 2019, Alex has been coaching the NYP TriStars; the Junior Triathlon Club in Ripon. His experiences from the British Army Triathlon team and Invictus Games are enabling Alex to support, mentor and coach the young athletes at the club.
It has been a privilege for Alex to be able to inspire people to take part in triathlon and physical activity, and help others, by sharing his story of reengaging in sport.
As a Motivational Speaker, Alex now offers professional consultancy services and inspirational speaking engagements. To find out more, please visit his website or contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org