Didn’t go according to plan.

05.30 on Saturday morning I woke and got the morning routine out of the way to ensure plenty of time to get to Yeovilton before the traffic really kicked off. I had been invited by ABF The Soldiers Charity to join them at the Yeovilton air show and talk to the public about how the ABF had helped me. I have done it a few times now, most recently you may remember at the concert in Exeter where I was fortunate enough to meet Angela Rippon OBE and Caroline Quinten, both of whom were a delight to meet and talk with. I had tried desperately to get my Overlander to the show so that it would bring people over to see it which gives me an opportunity to talk to the public about how the ABF were one of the charities who assisted me in purchasing the Overlander and how it has opened up so many opportunities for me to get out to places that would be otherwise inaccessible to me. Unfortunately though, as my “Chucklebus” is temporarily off the road, despite a plea on the social media sites, I could not guarantee that I could get it there and back and so as a result, I had to go without it. I was disappointed as it is difficult to talk to people about something which they cannot picture, as well as this, the Overlander is an icebreaker if you like and is a talking point.

I arrived in the disabled parking area at a little before 08.00 hrs having already been to the main car park after missing the sign for the disabled parking. Never the less, I was now in the correct parking area and well before the gates were to be opened for the public to enter. This was exactly what I wanted as I wanted to meet with the ABF and find out what general idea for the day was. I had fitted a catheter for the day as my spasms are are a worse than normal and have been for a good few weeks. The spasms are worsened further still by the rough tarmac and concrete and when the spasm kicks in, I am unable to propel myself and therefore have to stop until the spasm passes. Another few feet and the process repeats itself, as a result of this my muscles tighten causing pain and discomfort but also causes my bladder to tighten which is the equivalent of squeezing a wet sponge. Needless to say this is not something I want to be happening on a day out in front of the public hence the catheter being fitted. As I have very confused feeling in my legs, (this would take far too much time to unsuccessfully explain), it was not until I looked down before reaching down to fit the strap across my ankles to stop my legs from kicking out, that I noticed a dark “map of Africa” in my lap as a result of my catheter separating from the pipe to my leg bag. So getting up at 05.30 to ensure I was there early and thus being able to give my time for the whole day was now ruined and as I was already unhappy that I had let them down by not being able to bring the Overlander I was now really angry and wound up that I had to go back to Chard and potentially let them down further. Unfortunately, my spasms are affected by the anger which made it even more difficult to get in to the car and get my wheelchair in, a never ending cycle.

When I got home, my Wife helped me get cleaned up and changed and back in to the car in a pretty impressive time and I was back on the road in the hope that although I would clearly not be there for opening time (it was already past that time), I may get there before the flying started. The traffic was shite. The A303 had become a car park which was to be expected I guess and as I sat in the traffic, stationary, wishing the traffic would move there was a news bulletin on the radio. “Over 35 thousand people are expected to visit the air show at Yeovilton today…” and I couldn’t help but think that 25 thousand of those visitors were in the bloody cars in front of me! Eventually I did make it to the car park but as all of the disabled spaces were taken I had to park on the grass. I struggled to get across the grass due to the spasm issue I previously said about but as I repeatedly stopped after travelling a few feet a guy asked me if I would be offended if he were to push me to the hard standing. This was a welcome offer and as I got to the main entrance gate I thanked the guy and then met with the ABF who pushed me to the stand.

The day was a good one. I met some lovely people who were very happy to donate money to the charity and were very interested in the charity in general. As the ABF is not well known in the public eye since Help for Heroes was founded and pushed so hard in the commercial sense, they were interested to know about the charity and how it helps. I think we did a good job at bringing awareness of the charity and and how it helps, and I was really pleased that I was able to be there to tell people how the charity has helped me. I look forward to being able to help them in the future at events, talking to the public and bringing awareness of the charity to more and more people. I was surprised to learn that despite ABF The Soldiers Charity being the Army’s own charity, how many squaddies are unaware of its existence. If you do see a collecting box for ABF The Soldiers Charity then please donate what you can.

Good evening all.

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