A Lincolnshire air force veteran will be representing the RAF Benevolent Fund at the forthcoming Veteran Games in Israel, more than two decades after a motorcycle crash left him in a wheelchair.
Carl Harding joined the RAF Regiment aged just 20 as a flight lieutenant and in 1992 he was deployed to the besieged city of Sarajevo in Bosnia, during the Balkans war.
Just five years later in 1997, his career was cut short by a serious motorbike accident, which left him in a wheelchair. The RAF Benevolent Fund, the leading welfare charity for RAF personnel, stepped in and supported Carl with a Housing Trust property to suit his and his family’s needs.
He will now be preparing to take aim at the shooting competition at the Veteran Games in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem between May 29 and June 3.
The Veteran Games recognises the role played by sport and family in supporting the recovery of veterans who have suffered physical and psychological challenges that came from serving their country.
It is just the second time the Veteran Games will take place, and it will be held at state-of-the-art facilities run by a rehabilitation charity called Beit Halochem.
Carl, who lives in Bourne, said: “Thanks to the RAF Benevolent Fund’s support, me and my family had somewhere to live, enabling me to adapt to life as a wheelchair user.
“I think everyone should strive to part of something much bigger than themselves. In the armed forces you are connected to systems and people to the extent you never give it a thought. When you become a veteran that connection is broken leading to a tendency to always look back.
“Being part of the Veteran Games rekindles past connections, rekindles the friendly banter and make new friends, who are in a similar situation as yourself. The Veteran Games in Israel gives an amazing chance to meet service personnel with completely different backgrounds, but at the core we are both the same.
“Being able to be an ambassador for the RAF Benevolent Fund is a great privilege. Being able to go to events like this promotes self-confidence.”