For RAF Benevolent Fund Ambassador Stuart Robinson, 19 February marks the start of a journey which took him from the frontline in Afghanistan to preparing for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021. In this guest blog he tells us how his life has changed in the past eight years.
In the first few years after my accident, we made a big thing of it – celebrating my alive day. But now with more time to reflect this year, it's like any other day. Even though I have come so far, every day is about adapting, overcoming and being resilient. New challenges come along and we face them.
Initially after the explosion and when I was brought back to Headley Court life was a blur. I was trying to come to terms with what had happened and trying to piece it together. I was making it day by day, working on getting better. Gradually I started to look to the future and looking further ahead.
Initially I had planned on getting a job once I had left the RAF. But then I found wheelchair rugby. I actually watched some of the 2012 Paralympic Games wheelchair rugby before I went out to Afghanistan. I was amazed watching these players wheeling round and smashing into each other. I started with wheelchair basketball but when I ran into an opponent and knocked him out of his chair, I was recommended to try out for wheelchair rugby.
I joined a training camp and the rest is history. I've competed at three Invictus Games and been part of the GB squad since 2017. We competed in the European Championships in 2017 and 2019 and finished fourth in the World Championships in Australia in 2018.
We were prepared for the 2020 games to be postponed and although we're disappointed the team have taken the opportunity to get another year of training done. We are hopeful for a medal this time. Training in lockdown has been a challenge, especially when we've had bad weather but I'm lucky to have a gym set up in my garage. I've even been throwing balls against the garage door to practice my catching.
Rugby is a great distraction for me, it's made for me and I can't see me doing anything else. The RAF Benevolent Fund has been there for me from the very start, from when I was first in hospital and I was thinking how was I going to get my life back on track. Having the support from day one has been massively beneficial for me and my family and helping me to continue to play rugby.
Stuart was seriously injured when his vehicle hit an IED while on routine patrol. The RAF Regiment Corporal was thrown 30 feet in the air and left with injuries including the loss of his lower left leg and severe damage to his right leg and arm. While recovering in hospital he took the difficult decision to have his shattered right leg amputated.