Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Veteran completes London to Brighton Cycle Ride to raise money for military charity

A veteran from Newport in South Wales, whose life dramatically changed after suffering a serious brain injury, has raised over £800 for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. 

Gary Buckler, 51, took part in the 55-mile London to Brighton Cycle Ride on 11 September to raise money to help veterans who, like him, require support and rehabilitation. 

Having served for 25 years in the Royal Navy, including postings to the Gulf, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, Gary left and was excited for the future that he had mapped out for himself.  

Five months later Gary suffered a fractured skull and a serious brain injury. 

He said:

“I left the Navy thinking I’d done all my hard work and it was now time to put my feet up but that wasn’t to be.  

“I ended up having to relearn how to tie my shoelaces, unable to walk through doors on my own, I was incontinent, and I lost my sense of smell and taste. 

“It goes to show how quickly life can change. It’s been a long journey to recovery, I couldn’t run for four and a half years but here I am taking part in physical challenges to not only raise money for charity but to also push myself and achieve something.  

I had to have a word with myself at the start of my recovery journey and prepare myself for slow progress and for the fact I would never be the same as I was before my injury. My sense of smell and taste won’t return and I struggle with both my short and long-term memory but I’ve come a long way from where I was. 

“Having been through this, I can understand the rehabilitation needs for those veterans who have lost their sight and the need for ongoing support from an amazing charity like Blind Veterans UK.” 

Gary was initially due to complete the London to Brighton Cycle Ride alongside a friend, but they sadly had to withdraw due to illness and Gary took on the challenge alone.  

He said:

“I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been and turned up on the day having done minimal training and my mountain bike looked a bit out of place on the start line.   

“It took me around eight hours to complete the ride, but I wasn’t in a race I just wanted to get from A to B to raise money for Blind Veterans UK.  

“The last hill felt like I was cycling up Mount Kilimanjaro, but I made it and it felt brilliant.   

“I’ve been unable to work since my injury, but I like to keep busy. I thought to myself, why sit around twiddling my thumbs when I could be out there cycling to raise money to help others. The sense of achievement I feel and the money I have raised make it so worthwhile.” 

If you are inspired by Gary and would like to take on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK, please visit the charity’s website: blindveterans.org.uk/fundraise. 

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.  

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/support.

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