Our supporters and volunteers come from different walks of life. Many are drawn towards Help for Heroes because of a family or friend’s connection to the Armed Forces, and this was the case for one competitor on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.
Julie Adcock has volunteered for Help for Heroes in Essex since the death of her friend Martin just over a year ago. She described the Volunteer Team as “a big family”, and chose the Charity because it was close to her friend’s heart.
Martin served for 24 years as a Military policeman but suffered from depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when he left the service. Sadly, he took his life in August 2016. Julie said the impact was devastating. She became determined to raise funds for the Charity her friend keenly supported. She said: “Martin never asked for help, and never from Help for Heroes. He went through a rough time. I decided that I wanted to help others, and get a positive out of a negative.”
Needing time for solace and reflection, Julie flew to Australia. While there she took part in a 14,000ft skydive for Help for Heroes, beginning her crusade to raise awareness of hidden wounds, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After returning to Essex, Julie became a volunteer at the Charity, and has held several fundraising events, including a pub quiz, as well as attending several road shows. Julie says her new-found role changed her as person, and helped her step “outside the box”.
But although she was volunteering, she was eager to push on and attempt a challenge that would be physically and mentally demanding, but equally rewarding. Julie found out about the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which was taking place on the anniversary of Martin’s death. She started training, but admits this was limited by the lack of hills in Essex. When the day came, Julie was nervous and worried about not knowing any of the other competitors but the Essex girl was adamant she would complete the challenge. “There was no way I was going to fail, and the most important thing was getting to the end. I have never walked 26-miles in my life, so I knew that it was going to be hard, and I was shocked at how steep the peaks were.”
At one stage, Julie became concerned that she would miss the cut off time for climbing the final peak (Ingleborough). She had placed a white rose in memory of her friend at the previous peaks (Whernside and Pen-y-ghent), and was desperate to reach the top of Ingleborough to place another. She made the cut off by five minutes but the fatigue of the trek was starting to take its toll. “I did not know if I would be able to climb the final peak, I felt sick the whole day, and I couldn’t eat. But I did not want to let anyone down, and when I saw the view from the top I thought it was amazing, and when climbing up into the clouds it was like we were walking up to heaven.”
After a five-mile descent, the welcome sight of the finishing line came into view, and she was greeted by a cheering crowd of participants and staff. Julie was emotional, and couldn’t believe she had finished an event that at one stage looked formidable and unlikely. Despite her achievement and pride, she was keen to bring attention to the role of the Charity’s volunteers.
“I love being a volunteer, and I can’t get enough of it. I am amazed at how much I have done since I started; if I could give up my job and do it full time then I would! It is great to mix up with all different ages, and just makes you want to do it more and more. The whole experience has picked me up and made me appreciate life, I was not in a good place and it has saved me.
“Help for Heroes has filled the void, and made me realise that I can help people, and I feel like I have a purpose in life.”
National Volunteer Regional Manager East, Carole Groves, said Julie had thrown herself into the role “all guns blazing”, and had no doubt that she would be a local co-ordinator in the future.
She said: “Julie is a great asset to the Volunteer team, and she is very keen to learn all about volunteering and help wherever she can. I am proud to have her working with us.”
For more information on volunteering opportunities call 01980 840220, or click here to register.