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Annie Devine, tornado engineer, was medically discharged from the RAF in March 2012. Having heard of our Help for Heroes Band of Brothers network through a friend, Annie rang up, to seek advice. “Ollie Metcalfe, who runs the Band of Brothers network, asked if I was ok and subsequently opened the floodgates. She actually saved my life”. Annie was then invited to spend time at Tedworth House, a Help for Heroes run Recovery Centre in Tidworth, Wiltshire, where she tried her hand at a variety of sports.
“Earlier in my career, I had taken up wheelchair basketball in RAF Marham, as it was the only disability sport around. I had Googled it and just rocked up to play.” However, it was at Tedworth House, where Annie got encouraged to take up rowing and then sitting volleyball with the Help for Heroes sporting initiative, Battle Back. Annie says that all the different sports has helped her in a variety ways. “It’s great because a lot of the sport I do, you don’t need any equipment to play. So if I use the SwimEx at Tedworth House, I don’t need my wheelchair and feel so free. Everyone around you is in the same place and you don’t feel like you have to hide, as you can have that military banter with others. I think it really helps my fitness too and I’ve had amazing opportunities out of it all and even played wheelchair basketball in the Copperbox last month!”
Annie says that she loves the fact that sport keeps her more mobile and fit. She explains that she used to dream of taking part in the Paralympics in Rio 2016, but after completing a gruelling training schedule of 6 days a week, realised that her body wouldn’t allow her to keep that level up. She now makes sure she enjoys the sport for health and social reasons. As for the future? Annie says: “I want to stay out of an electric wheelchair. From there, we’ll see where the road takes me.”