A group of ex-armed forces veterans who sustained life-changing injuries while serving in the line of duty will return to the island next month for seven days of enjoyment, thanks to support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Let’s Do Veterans Support Charity, which has officially become an Isle of Man-registered charity this month, helps individuals come to terms with injuries and disabilities such as loss of limbs, limited vision, partial paralysis, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has been bringing veterans to the Isle of Man since 2014 to experience the thrill of the island’s motorcycling races, and is also focusing its efforts on supporting island-based veterans.
This year, a group of six motorcycling-fanatic ex-military personnel and carers from Let’s Do Veterans will return for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 International Road Races, which will take place around the Billown Circuit from 8th to 11th July.
The Steam Packet Company has supported the charity for a number of years and is pleased to once again provide free of charge return travel for the veterans and their motorcycles.
During this year’s visit to the island, the group has an action-packed itinerary planned outside of the race schedule. They’ll enjoy a sail around the island on Pride of Man lll with Sailing for the Disabled, with the chance to take in the island’s coast and try their hand at taking the helm.
They will also attend an organised lunch at Sulby Glen Hotel with other local veterans, a visit to Murrays Motorcycle Museum in Sulby, a dinner at Snaefell Summit Café and Restaurant and a journey on the Manx Electric Railway and Steam Railway.
Let’s Do founder Rob Maxwell, a keen rider who underwent limb amputation following an injury sustained while serving in the British Army, said: ‘Through attending events and taking part in group activities, we aim to help our members build confidence and become more comfortable with their disabilities, while also providing opportunities for them to share experiences with individuals in similar circumstances.
‘My own experiences have taught me how easy it is to fall into a state of despair; disconnecting from society and suffering in silence. Being surrounded by people who know what they’re going through and attending events and activities together can help them find enjoyment in life again. We also recognise that injuries not only affect people physically, but mentally too, so encourage members to talk and help each other as they take on their own personal challenges.
‘The Steam Packet Company has played an essential role in bringing Let’s Do Veterans to the Isle of Man over the past few years, and we could not be more grateful for its support. Not only has it offered free travel on numerous trips, the staff always ensure we are well-looked after on board and have everything we need. It’s amazing and they really are helping to change lives for the better.
‘I must also offer my thanks to Southern 100 Motorcycle Racing Club which welcomes us back year-on-year and goes out of its way to make our visit to the island so special for the veterans. Former Southern 100 Club President Derek Nicholson (who passed away in 2017), was a truly special man who opened his arms to us and initiated this partnership. There really is nowhere quite like the Isle of Man.’
Veteran Ady Smith was introduced to the charity in 2017 through a mutual friend, when he was invited to take a wounded veteran on his motorcycle for the Southern 100 International Road Races.
He said: ‘A small group of us watched the racing, socialised and promoted the charity during our time on the Isle of Man – it was a fantastic trip. Let’s Do brings together injured veterans with any level of disability and encourages them to take part and enjoy mutual interests of motorcycles and sailing, with lots of camaraderie that comes from a military background. It’s a wonderful charity and I look forward to returning to the island with them.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘Rob is an inspiring individual who has created a wonderful sense of community for injured veterans as they help each other to reconnect with society and find enjoyment in life, after suffering traumatic experiences.
‘We’re delighted that our special island can bring so much joy to the individuals and it’s a pleasure to continue our support of this deserving charity. We hope the group enjoys the 2019 Southern 100 International Road Races and makes unforgettable memories of a lifetime.’