What we do / Our Stories / Lee Patmore

Lee Patmore

Categories: 40,000 Strong

“I remember feeling scared. I didn’t know if I would be able to look after my family or where we were going to go, because we were living in married quarters at the time which we obviously had to leave.”

Veteran Lee Patmore was forced to leave the Royal Navy in 1999 after damaging his back whilst in training. The timing couldn’t have been worse; at the time he’d just got married and he and his wife were expecting their first son.


“I remember feeling scared. I didn’t know if I would be able to look after my family or where we were going to go, because we were living in married quarters at the time which we obviously had to leave.”

Lee couldn’t have predicted his situation when he’d joined the Navy three years earlier, proudly following in the footsteps of his grandad who served in the RAF. Lee served on HMS Gloucester and loved travelling to places others dreamt of seeing.

Following a tour to Australia, he started his next stage of his military training when he started feeling twinges in his back. Gradually they worsened, until the pain became so debilitating that he struggled to walk. Summoned before a medical board one day, Lee was told his career was over.

He found the transition to civilian life tough and was upset at the lack of support available to help him adjust to life outside of the military.

“When I was discharged, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) put me on a week-long resettlement programme where I got some help with my CV and funding to enrol on a course. But for me things weren’t that clear cut. I couldn’t get a job because I had severe health issues.

“Other than that it was a case of just getting on with things and keeping myself going.”

Lee’s condition worsened and he was eventually diagnosed with ME and Fibromyalgia, confining him to a wheelchair for much of the time. His mental health suffered as he became frustrated at his situation and life in general. Unable to work or keep fit – Lee had been sporty and a keen runner and mountain biker before becoming ill – he spent a lot of time at home feeling low.

Lee Patmore

During what he describes as a particularly rough patch, he decided to take up archery, a sport he’d loved as a child. It gave him focus, but Lee found that picking up the arrows caused unbearable pain. Determined not to lose another hobby and let his disability get in the way of something that could lift him, Lee turned to us for help.

We funded specialist archery equipment and a new wheelchair for Lee, so that he could move around more easily and make the most of his newfound passion. He wanted to join a gym, but quickly realised there were a shortage of trained disability gym instructors local to him, so with our help he became one himself; we helped Lee onto the InstructAbility Scheme which helps disabled people become trainers. Lee also received counselling to come to terms with his disability.  

Now, he works full time as a personal trainer and inclusion advisor, helping others with disabilities to build their strength through fitness. Despite this he is still in pain much of the time and finds being in a wheelchair tough. He’s taught himself how to do wheelies in it; “so that when people look at me in the chair it’s because I’m doing something cool.

“Being able to help other people though is a massive part of my life now. It’s about being able to make a difference and give people a new lease of life. I come across so many people who don’t feel they can go into a gym and I’m able to work with them and show that there are ways of adapting and achieving.

“I can give them tools, in the same way that Help for Heroes gave me the tools I needed to get my life back.”

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