A former member of the Royal Engineers has spoken about how a trip to the International Southern 100 Road Races, supported by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, has assisted his rehabilitation following a life-changing injury.
Jeff Winder was serving in Iraq in 2004 when he lost a leg in an explosion while clearing improvised explosive devices in civilian areas. His self-confidence was badly affected and despite being a keen biker he had not been on a motorcycle since suffering the injury.
That changed when fellow former soldier Rob Maxwell invited Jeff to join a bikers’ trip to the Isle of Man with the Letsdo rehabilitation charity. Rob has been bringing injured former service personnel to the Southern 100 since 2015, encouraging them to engage in social activities and restore their enjoyment of biking.
The Steam Packet Company has assisted with the travel costs for each visit, and this year will be bringing over a group of six from Northern Ireland and England for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 International Road Races, which take place around the Billown circuit from 10th to 13th July.
Jeff explained: ‘The trip to the Southern 100 was an eye-opener as the people on the Island were all very friendly and interested in our group. The racing was excellent, the weather was great and Rob did a fantastic job making sure everything went smoothly. He always goes above and beyond, as did the Steam Packet Company.
‘We were well looked after by the Steam Packet Company staff, who kept our group to one side and assisted us onto the ferry before escorting us to our seats.
‘The trip to the Isle of Man helped restore my confidence and self-worth, and has given me a chance to show others what can be done if you put your mind to it. Letsdo has helped many other veterans and other disabled people realise that there are things out there that can help put a smile on your face.
‘I’d like to thank everyone involved on behalf of myself and the silent few who really appreciate what has been done for us.’
Letsdo was formed by Rob and Steve Timblin, who both underwent limb amputations following injuries sustained while serving in the British Army, to assist former armed forces personnel come to terms with life-changing injuries and find new confidence.
Rob said: ‘We organise events to encourage injured veterans to develop a positive mental attitude by giving them something fun to focus on. Jeff’s story is just one of many that show that visiting the Southern 100, and the wonderful people of the Isle of Man, contributes massively to their rehabilitation as they come to terms with devastating and life-changing injuries, and realise being injured doesn’t mean the things you enjoy in life are over.
‘I’d like to thank the Isle of Man Steam Packet for its continued support, which plays a massive part in ensuring these trips go ahead.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘It is very moving to hear Jeff’s story and to understand how these visits to the Isle of Man are directly helping injured veterans. We are honoured to play our part and hope attending the Southern 100, which we have sponsored for so many years, continues to assist with this rehabilitation.’
Photograph: Some members of Letsdo during an annual rideout.
The Steam Packet Company is assisting the charity with a trip to the Isle of Man