All too often in our line of work we hear words that make people stop and think, some stop and never go forward.
To most people "Life Changing Injuries" can be the end -
to a veteran who made it through Military Selection and the battlefields of the world only one thing is certain, and that is change.
We may improvise, adapt and overcome many things - but like everybody else - we do it better with a little help from our friends - and that is you.
The Remembrance Bike
My name is Mark Hancock I am a former Royal Navy Submariner.
After being medically discharged from the only job I ever wanted, I turned my hand to the security world firstly in personal protection. As my illness progressed I fought back with every bit of my soul, anger, hurt and pain all rolled up in a 6 ft 4 in large man. I started to work the night clubs and any other confrontational work I could find. My illness became worse and soon I was a Taxi Driver on night shifts carting the drunks home, no different to the door work in a way. By this time i had a beautiful wife a 5 children whom where and still are my life.
On December 18 2006 I had my first leg taken above the knee.
I was wide a wake and watched the whole operation start to finish with an epidural but no sedation.
The second leg was removed almost a year to the day on the 20 DEC 2007. This finally put me out of work.
The days turned into weeks, month and years. With my anger came depression. My illness never giving up, I was on 165 meds a week and still in pain. My illness is called CRPS chronic regional pain syndrome, just one of them anyway.
The desire to take my own life sat with me every day for years the reasons I couldn't do it was my stunning Wife and children, my Mum Dad and friends. You would of thought this made me happy but instead I started to resent them for keeping me here, finally I was invited by BLESMA and Lets Do Veteran Support Charity for a week at the Isle Of Man TT races, after some thought I decided to go on this trip - I may meet some wonderful veterans, some going through the same as myself. This was where I met Jeff and Rob. Jeff told me of a bike he had been given and asked me if I would like it. I said yes the same day.
Once back on the mainland i decided i was going to strip her down and build Lets Do a bike they could raffle and raise much needed funds. How i was going to pay for it or more to the point pick up spanners again I didn't know but friends, family and some very well know company all helped and a year later she was finished.
She looks amazing - How can I ever thank all of you that helped?
With the year building and then this year selling raffle books it been a long journey.
I haven't though of suicide once in the past two years, and my anger? What anger?
I now live in a new home where are neighbors all have young children and I am involved with arranging games after school and keep the little ones safe.
There will always be bad days but the good ones beat them every time.
New Found Freedom
I was first introduced to Let’s Do Veterans Support Charity in 2017 by someone I had met through another charity that aims to support veterans. At the time, I was in a very difficult situation personally and mentally. I struggled a great deal with social anxiety, depression and also struggled with finding any drive or motivation. Despite input from peer support workers and other veterans charities, I never really felt supported or that my opinions and feelings mattered. I was just another case, with another issue!
My first trip away to the Isle of Man with Let’s Do Veterans Support Charity to see the Southern 100 road race was exactly what I needed. I was with very like minded people who all shared a passion for motorcycles. The trip gave me the sensation of escape. An escape from my illness and worries. An escape from my every day struggles of no motivation, continuous high stress and a constant feeling of being trapped!
The trip was about seeing the iconic Island and its famous TT circuit. Which for me had been a life long dream. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. We weren’t being told where to go or rushed to be there for a certain time. We had the option of doing something if we felt up to it. And I can’t begin to explain how helpful that really is, especially when you struggle with anxiety.
The trip helped me feel relaxed, refreshed and recharged. We had a lot of laughs, swapped stories and experiences. And bonded as friends. This instilled a lot of positivity back into my life that I so desperately lacked. When I returned home, this positivity followed me and began to have an impact on my home life. I was beginning to feel motivated and focused!
My second trip with Let’s Do was to the Isle of Man for the Manx GP. I wasn’t sure if this trip would have been as good as the previous trip, but it was. The charity has a very natural positive and understanding outlook. So the trip was yet again an outstanding success, immediately leaving me feeling relaxed, welcome and positive. In fact, when I returned home from that trip, I felt so driven and positive, I managed to get myself a job and a place to live (previous to this, I was sleeping on a sofa and unable to work).
The trip had left me so motivated that I was able to push myself to achieve new goals.
Since my trips away with Let’s Do Veterans Support Charity, I have come off all medication, no longer struggle with crippling anxiety.
I have a full time job, a new car and my own house.
I never believed I could achieve anything or be motivated enough to try. But after experiencing the freedom of the Isle of Man with the charity and the other veterans I feel I can focus more and push myself to achieve more. I have my confidence back.