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The year 2021 won’t prove popular with many, but for veteran Lynsey Kelly the tail end of it will certainly have long-term benefits.

The 38-year-old, from Carterton, in Oxfordshire, gained her first sports coaching qualifications in swimming and archery – the latter via our Coaching Academy pilot programme – while she also won a RAF sports award for chronicling her positive experience of sports recovery with the Charity.

The award was from the RAF Sports Association for an article she wrote for RAF Active, a magazine that features sports and adventure stories told by active RAF Regular and Reserve personnel. Her feature, titled ‘What a Difference a Year Makes’, highlighted how effective sport can be as a recovery tool, both physically and mentally.

She said: “As my article says, I’ve never been a sport person. I got involved in sports in an attempt to regain some control over my life, my mental health and my weight. My first sport was swimming, which I completed a week-long course in with Help for Heroes and went on to compete at the Warrior Games and Invictus trials.

“I fell into archery during the training camps for the Warrior Games and realised very quickly that I loved it. It’s seen me win various medals and really helps with mental focus.”

Lynsey and her Parents
Lynsey and her Parents - Help for Heroes

Lynsey, who was medically discharged from the RAF in 2010, is now the public relations officer for the RAF Archery Association and also chairs the RAF Brize Norton Archery Club, in addition to her ‘day job’ with the MOD at RAF Brize Norton.

“I’m now also a qualified level-one archery coach, which means I can lead beginners’ courses and encourage people in the RAF, wider military, and veterans’ charity communities to take up the sport and get as much joy from it as I have.”

Lynsey with fellow RAF Brize Norton archery coach Cpl Rob Rigby
Lynsey with fellow RAF Brize Norton archery coach Cpl Rob Rigby

While she may have, initially, written the award-winning article as a means of catharsis, its emotive and relatable narrative clearly struck a chord with the magazine’s judges.

“Being nominated for the award was completely unexpected. I’ve always been very open and honest about my health, both physically and mentally, and simply saw writing the article as an opportunity to inspire someone else, who may be feeling low, stuck in a rut or struggling with their mental health to get involved in something, as I truly believe that anyone can do anything, because everything can be adapted.

“There are so many people struggling with their mental health, and I know from experience that sports can help bring a sense of calm, something to focus on and give you a huge boost. I hope my article inspired even just one other person to try something new.”

Well done, Lynsey. We’re sure you will act as an inspiration for many.

Find out how, like Lynsey, you can benefit from our sports recovery programme