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Monday 27 April 2020

Heroes helping heroes: Kelly’s story

Posted by: Help For Heroes

A veteran who suffered a life changing injury is proudly serving her country again in her NHS role to help defeat coronavirus.


Kelly Leonard, of Ellerdine, Telford, has spoken of the comparisons between her life in the military and life in the NHS during the pandemic. She said she is proud to be “doing her bit” as the country faces its toughest battle since World War Two.


A former RAF physical training instructor, Kelly had a motorbike accident in July 2000 which almost led to her having her foot amputated. The injury has left the mother-of-three with arthritis in her ankle and needing to use crutches on bad days.


Competitive sport has always been a big part of the 42-yeard old’s life, but Kelly says the accident stopped her in her tracks.


"I learnt to walk again and live the best I could within my limitations," said Kelly, who now works as a physiotherapist for the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.


"I tried several different individual and team sports but failed to fill the void as I was never able to participate on a level playing field. I lost focus on sport; as a result my physical and mental recovery suffered. It left me with a loss of confidence and self- belief."


Kelly eventually accessed support from Help for Heroes through its’ sports recovery programme and was selected Vice-Captain for the Invictus Games 2020 in The Hague, now postponed until 2021.


In her NHS role as a physiotherapist, Kelly is managing a team of 25 and currently doing respiratory training to cover the non-ventilated COVID-19 patients, freeing up more experienced staff.


She’s the only military trained person in her team. “It’s about creating a routine from the start, being level headed and pulling up your sleeves,” said Kelly. As a former military person, she is used to facing adversity.


“We are working very long hours but my military training has given me the right personality and skills to take on responsibility. I understand the huge value of camaraderie and humour as a way of bringing and keeping the team together. I’m working very hard to keep the channels of communication open.


“I want to set an example and demonstrate that I won’t let anyone else do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.”