A couple of weeks ago I went down to Heron Lake (a Disabled Waterski Facility in Wraysbury) to coach the guys and girls who were involved in Battle Back. Battle Back is an organisation that was set up by Ash Clare, Recreational Adventure Therapist (RAT) at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. He was there with budding adventurists who were ready to get on the water. Its amazing what Ash has created and developed, he takes the guys away skiing, kayaking, you name it, they’ve done it or are working on doing it.
I have never coached anyone with any kind of disability before so I was pretty nervous but luckily I had Owen Pick there to introduce me to everyone. He started wakeboarding because of Ash and Battle Back, so he knew everyone. The types of injuries these guys have suffered are all extremely different but they all managed to get on the water. Honestly, its amazing to witness. One girl I coached had been in a wheelchair for two years and had only started walking again in January, and she was up and riding on the Little Bro and on boat! Another guy was kneeboarding behind the boat who is a triple amputee, (who surfs as well I might add). It was really interesting and very different to what I usually do. I was fascinated to find out about everyone and to see how they got on the water, and how long it had been since they had done anything like this and had this kind of excitement and joy from sport.
Ash took me out on a sit-ski. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared because you don’t have the use of your legs, they are tucked into a footstrap and you are sitting in a little seat with a bar underneath your knees for support. It was a very strange feeling but I figured I’d just watched these guys do it, so I had to give it a go. Once the boat got going we were off! Ash was teaching me how to jump the wake, have sit-ski fights (where you try and push the other one off) and we even cranked the boat speed right up; what a rush! It was only then I really understood the reason of Battle Back. The smiles and excitement that shine through after a set on the water for these guys, who possibly haven’t had that kind of rush for two or more years, would feel incredible. At the end of the day, what better feeling is there than skimming across a lake… and Battle Back is about giving that chance to people.